Issue 5 - February 10, 2017 PRINT VERSION

Legislative Overview

The Legislature is about to embark on one of the toughest weeks of session: the last week to hear bills in the chamber of origin. This is the time of session when committee agendas have 10 or more bills for consideration and hearings last for many hours. League staff will be in these committee hearings and in stakeholder meetings to represent the interests of local government. We appreciate all your support and look forward to a successful week.

As of today, all deadlines for bill introductions have lapsed. While next week is the last week to hear bills in the chamber of origin, keep in mind the Appropriations Committees in both chambers have an additional week to hear bills from their respective chamber. We will likely see bills strategically reassigned to these committees by House and Senate leadership to keep them moving through the process. League staff will monitor these agendas closely to see if any of the bills impact local government.

Small Cell Bills

League staff is continuing to monitor and negotiate with the wireless industry on HB 2365 wireless facilities; collocation; rights of way sponsored by Rep. Jeff Weninger R-Chandler, LD 17. The bill was heard in the House Commerce committee on Tuesday where a strike-everything amendment was offered to address some of the concerns expressed by the League. The League signed in neutral on the bill with the understanding the industry will continue to address our concerns.

While the strike-everything amendment was a good faith effort to address our concerns, the language of the bill needs to be modified to ensure cities and towns retain police and land use powers over the right-of-way in regard to small cell deployment; the application processes and review timeframes are adjusted to ensure city and town staff are able to take action on applications appropriately; and the insurance and indemnification provisions are revised to guarantee cities and towns are held harmless in the event an incident occurs where the city or town is not at fault; among other concerns.

On Wednesday, the Senate Government Committee heard SB 1214 local governments; smallcell equipment permitting sponsored by Senator Karen Fann R-Prescott, LD 1. The bill allows cable operators such as Cox Communications to install, operate and maintain small cell equipment in rights-of-way while 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 signed in support of the bill and it passed with no opposition.

Force Account Labor Bill Held

HB 2143 public contracts; procurement sponsored by Rep. Vince Leach R-Tucson, LD 11, was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday in the House Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy Committee but was held by the chairman of the committee Rep. Bob Thorpe R-Flagstaff, LD 6. The bill was proposed by the Arizona Association of General Contractors (AGC). It would have amended state law related to the construction, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of streets and roads by city or town personnel. The change would reduce the threshold amount that determines whether a road project has to be bid out to private contractors from $216,000 to $25,000 and includes a penalty clause that makes a violation of the new law subject to a SB 1487 claim.

We appreciate the actions of Rep. Thorpe in helping the League and its members on this issue. League staff, other representatives of municipalities and representatives of county governments met with the Rep. Leach, Rep. Bob Thorpe and the president of the AGC to discuss the potential of finding compromise on the legislation. The League raised strong objections to the bill and urged the sponsor to abandon it for this session. After the meeting, Rep. Bob Thorpe informed us that he and the sponsor agreed not to pursue the legislation this session.

Please contact Rep. Thorpe to tell him thank you for holding the bill from consideration.

Federal Funds

League staff is monitoring HB 2212 federal financial assistance; reports sponsored by Rep. Vince Leach R-Tucson, LD 11. The bill was assigned to the House Appropriations Committee and has been on an agenda for the previous two hearings; however, the committee has not officially taken action.

The bill requires political subdivisions of the state, including cities and towns, to compile annually a financial report that contains the aggregate amount of federal funds received in the previous fiscal year, the percentage of the city or town budget that constitutes federal funds and a plan if federal funds are reduced. This report is to be sent to the Arizona Department of Administration and to the chairmen of the Appropriations Committees of the state legislature.

An amendment was offered on Wednesday that would exempt certain special taxing districts in Title 5 and Title 48 from the requirements in the bill.

The League signed in opposed and the bill was held from consideration. However, the bill has been placed again on an Appropriations Committee agenda for next Wednesday.

Presumption Bills

Two bills expanding the list of health conditions that are presumed to arise from employment in public safety for the purposes of Workers' Compensation claims were heard in the House Health Committee on Thursday. Current statute lists brain, bladder, rectal or colon cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, adenocarcinoma and mesothelioma of the respiratory tract as conditions that are presumed to be a result of employment as a peace officer or firefighter. HB 2161 adds 12 additional types of cancers to the list of conditions that are presumed to be a result of employment as a firefighter. HB 2410 extends the presumption of compensability to all forms of heart disease for firefighters. The League testified at the hearing to express the concerns of our members. Both bills were voted out of committee 9-0.

CALL TO ACTION

The Governor's budget proposal contains a provision that would allow the three state universities to keep the TPT revenues they currently pay including the shared portion that goes to local governments. The universities would use these revenues would for bonding as well as general operating expenses and student assistance.

Representatives of the Board of Regents made presentations to both the House and Senate Appropriations committees this week and advocated for this proposal. Although it does not represent a significant loss in revenues to cities and towns (approximately $6.5 million statewide), it is a dangerous precedent since it will likely lead other entities (school districts, community colleges, etc.) to seek the same opportunity to recapture their taxes and it violates a core principle of the League by making a change to the shared revenue system formula. The erosion of the tax base, the violation of the shared revenue formula and the continuation of the shift of state responsibility to local governments are all legitimate reasons to oppose this proposal.

We know budget discussions have likely started so it will be important to contact your delegation members soon to tell them to reject the taking of local revenue for the university system.

The League Executive Committee at its meeting today voted to adopt a resolution in opposition to the proposal providing additional funding to the higher education system at the expense of city and town revenue that is already budgeted to provide basic, daily services to all of our residents statewide. The Committee voted to modify the resolution to state the proposal will trigger concerns about Proposition 108, which would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to enact. A formal copy of the resolution will be provided at a later date.

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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