Issue 4 - February 3, 2017 PRINT VERSION

Legislative Overview

The week has been a busy one. This is the time of the session when League staff is spending much of their day in committee or in one stakeholder meeting or another. It is also when we are making many requests for information from all of you. Our ability to represent you well is largely based on the feedback we get from you about the impact these bills will have on your communities. We appreciate your timely responses.

Today is the 26th day of the legislative session. The House deadline for introducing legislation is next Friday, February 10 at 5 p.m. The last day for committees to hear bills in the chamber of origin is Friday, February 17.

The following are some of the bills of note:

Small Cell

League staff is tracking two bills working through the process at the Arizona State Legislature relating to small cell deployment. Small cells are low-powered wireless base stations that typically provide coverage for targeted indoor or localized outdoor areas ranging in size from homes and offices to stadiums, shopping malls, hospitals and metropolitan outdoor spaces.

The installations of this equipment in city and town rights-of-way help wireless carriers add capacity to their networks to provide better access to cell phone coverage and high-speed wireless data services in areas that are not being served by traditional cell sites.

SB 1214 local governments; smallcell equipment permitting, sponsored by Senator Karen Fann R-Prescott, LD 1, allows for streamlined deployment while maintaining the ability of cities and towns to manage rights-of-way within their jurisdiction.

SB 1214 allows cable operators such as Cox Communications to install, operate and maintain small cell equipment in rights-of-way. This equipment will be used by wireless providers such as Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. League staff worked with Cox to address the critical needs for our communities, including maintaining the ability of cities and towns to exercise police and land use powers in the right-of-way and require stealth and concealment elements for small cell equipment. The League is supporting SB 1214 and the bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Government Committee next week.

The League is also tracking HB 2365 wireless facilities; collocation; rights of way. Representative Jeff Weninger R-Chandler, LD 17, is sponsoring this bill on behalf of four major wireless providers: Verizon; AT&T; T-Mobile and Sprint. The League has several concerns with this bill including provisions that 1) allow all locations in the right-of-way for small cell deployment with little to no coordination with the city or town; 2) limit the ability of cities and towns to impose reasonable restrictions on appearance and size of small cell equipment; 3) impair existing small cells agreements negotiated with wireless providers; and 4) invalidates existing fees for small cell collocations. The League will be neutral on the bill while the wireless industry is currently working to address these concerns. HB 2365 is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, February 2, in the House Commerce Committee.

Liquor Omnibus

HB 2337 liquor omnibus, sponsored by Representative Jeff Weninger R-Chandler, LD 17, was heard in the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday. The League was invited early on by the liquor stakeholders group to review draft legislation and provide feedback. After receiving input from our members the League requested changes to the bill to address concerns that were raised. Those changes were included in a committee amendment that was adopted unanimously and the League took a neutral position on the bill. It passed out of committee on a unanimous vote and now moves on to the Rules Committee.

Guns in Public Buildings

SB 1243 misconduct involving weapons; public places, sponsored by Senator John Kavanagh R-Fountain Hills, LD 23, was heard on Wednesday in Senate Government. The bill requires all public facilities, including publicly sponsored or permitted events, to allow Concealed Carry Weapons permit (CCW) holders to carry firearms inside if the facility or event does not have metal detectors and armed guards at each entrance. The League testified in opposition to the bill because it would preempt local authority on this issue. The bill also imposes an unfunded mandate on communities that wish to continue prohibiting firearms in their facilities. Municipalities that cannot afford to install and maintain the mandated security would not have a choice but to allow guns in their facilities. Furthermore, the bill does not specify that any weapon that the person carries be concealed, only that CCW permit holders be granted access. As such it could potentially require local governments to allow open-carry in their buildings. Since the bill exempts a number of public facilities, the League requested that cities and towns be exempted as well on the grounds that we share the same concerns and would like the same local authority to make decisions about public safety in our buildings. The bill passed out of committee 4-3 and moves on to the Rules Committee.

Transportation Liability

The Arizona Department of Transportation approached Senator Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, LD 22, about sponsoring SB 1025 public entities; absolute immunity; defenses with the impetus of providing legal protection for the state with regard to road engineering lawsuits. Under current law public entities are not liable for the acts or omissions of their employees related to the establishment, implementation, and enforcement of minimum safety standards for light rail systems. SB 1025 would extend that immunity to all other transportation facilities (highways, roads, bridges, streets, etc.) but would still allow a public entity or employee to be liable where there is gross negligence in providing reasonably adequate warning of unreasonably dangerous hazards. The bill's protections would cover local governments as well. It was heard in Senate Government on Thursday and the League signed in support of the bill. It passed out of committee on a 5-2 vote and now moves to the Rules Committee.

Economic Development

HB 2177 municipalities; development; reimbursement zones (Doug Coleman R-Apache Junction, LD 16)

This League resolution was heard in the House Government Committee on Thursday. The bill allows cities and towns to establish an economic development reimbursement authority (EDRA) to stimulate new development by using the increase in property tax collection attributable to the project to reimburse developers for eligible costs related to infrastructure and other improvements. Reimbursement is only authorized if certain conditions are met and an oversight committee made up of city, county and school district representatives approves the costs. The League signed in support of the bill and it passed with a vote of 7-1.

Forest Health

SB 1202 forestry and fire management; conformity (Gail Griffin R-Hereford, LD 14)

This bill was heard on Monday in the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Water Committee. The bill makes conforming changes to statute consistent with legislation passed last session that established the Department of Forestry and Fire Management and modified the duties of the state forester. Among other changes, the bill removes statute limiting the state forester to only prevent and suppress wildfires on lands covered by cooperative fire agreements. The League signed in support of the bill and it passed with no opposition.

Fire Code Preemption

SB 1329 fire flow requirements; rural applicability (Sylvia Allen R-Snowflake, LD 6)

This bill was heard in the Senate Government Committee on Wednesday. The bill preempts state, municipal, county and fire district fire codes in counties other than Pima and Maricopa Counties relating to water and fire flow for single-family residential lots and subdivisions with lots that are 1/2 acre or greater if the adjacent water distribution system is not able to provide water and fire flow. The League signed in opposition to the bill and it passed with a vote of 5-2.

CALL TO ACTION

The Bulletin typically focuses on bills that have had some action during the past week. However, occasionally we need to draw your attention to a piece of legislation that will be heard the following week. HB 2143 public contracts; procurement (Rep. Vince Leach R-Tucson, LD 11) is scheduled for Tuesday in the House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy Committee (FPRPP) at 2 p.m.

This bill would require all maintenance work on our local streets that is valued above $25,000 be bid out. Currently all maintenance jobs below $216,000 are not required to be bid. Additionally, it specifically cites a SB 1487 lawsuit as the penalty for violating the statute. The chairman of FPRPP is Rep. Bob Thorpe R-Flagstaff, LD 6, we ask that you contact him and urge him to hold the bill. You may also want to contact other members of the committee or the Representatives from your district to explain your concerns about the bill, the impacts it will have on your community and ask them to vote NO.

Legislative Bill Monitoring

All bills being actively monitored by the League can be found here.
Legislative Bulletin is published by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
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