Issue 7 - February 24, 2017 PRINT VERSION

Legislative Overview

Today is the 47th day of the legislative session. This week the Legislature concluded "crossover week" following many hours of floor activity to transfer bills to the other chamber for the next round of committee hearings. Both chambers considered a number of bills affecting cities and towns. League staff provided "Action Alerts" to legislators to ensure they had accurate information when voting on and debating legislation impacting local government.

Standing committees in both chambers will reconvene next week to begin considering bills from the opposite chamber. Both chambers will have four weeks to hear bills and will conclude these hearings on March 24.

Small Cell

On Thursday the House unanimously passed HB 2365 wireless providers; use of rights-of-way, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Weninger R-Chandler, LD 17. The bill will proceed to the Senate where it will be introduced and assigned to a standing committee for further consideration. The League remains neutral on the bill while the stakeholder process is ongoing and we expect the bill to be further amended.

The League has shared numerous drafting and content issues with the industry. Some of our concerns have been addressed, however, several issues remain. The House this week adopted a floor amendment that made some changes we requested to the bill, including: requiring the construction and installation of small cells and related equipment to begin within 180 days after a permit is granted and be pursued to completion; removing sections of the bill relating to insurance and indemnification; and inserting language prohibiting small cell equipment installed from obstructing, endangering or hindering travel within city and town rights-of-way.

The current language of the bill can apply to macro cells and deployment of other larger facilities, which is an area of concern. The bill allows for equipment boxes up to 28 cubic feet on poles and up to 50 cubic feet on the ground and the installation of new poles at a minimum of 40' tall without zoning review or approval. The size limitations specified in the bill do not apply to certain small cell related equipment, such as electric meters, concealment elements, telecom demarcation boxes, grounding equipment, power transfer switches, cutoff switches, or cables. The bill provides no limitation on the number of ground or pole mounted enclosures, which raises concerns over accessibility of sidewalks and the potential to impair motorists' line of sight at street intersections.

The League has offered to the industry several options for revisions to the bill, including adjustments to definitions, the applicability sections and the statutory requirements and prohibitions being imposed on local governments.

PSPRS Update

A bill that implements some of the elements of the new Tier III passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday with no opposition. SB 1063 S/E: PSPRS; risk pool, sponsored by Senator Debbie Lesko R-Peoria, LD 21, was the result of negotiations between the League, the Reason Foundation and public safety labor groups.

It retains the underlying existing multiple employer plan structure of PSPRS. It creates a pool for death and disability claims that is spread across all plans, it establishes that those plans that have 251 or more active members are separately rated (a total of 18 plans) while all other with 250 or fewer active members are pooled together. Contribution rates for the normal costs and unfunded liability costs of the new Tier III, starting July 1, 2017, will be shared 50-50 between employees and employers. A plan that creates a program that deviates more than 20% from the actuarial average of the plans in a 24-month period, will be subject to an assessment to cover the costs of that program to the overall group. This structure should provide for uniform rates across all the pooled plans, making it seamless for personnel to move between employers. It also assumes rates will be adjusted to maintain 100% funding for the new Tier. The League was still analyzing the details of the language when the bill came up in committee and took an official position of neutral at that time.

Photo Radar

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday heard HB 2525 prohibition; photo radar, sponsored by Rep. Grantham R-Gilbert, LD 12. The bill prohibits the use of photo radar technology by any municipality in the state. The League signed in opposed to the measure because it would remove a law enforcement tool that provides many public safety benefits, including reducing speeding, the number of accidents on our streets and fatalities. Photo radar is also a force multiplier for police departments, allowing for the consistent, objective enforcement of traffic laws without preoccupying an officer who could otherwise be providing non-traffic related police services to reduce property and violent crime.

The bill passed the House on Thursday night with a vote of 32-28 and will now proceed to the Senate where it awaits assignment to a standing committee.

ASRS

HB 2010 ASRS; political subdivision entities is sponsored by Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita R-Scottsdale, LD 23. Representative Ugenti-Rita originally introduced this bill in the 2013 legislative session and has done so several times since then.

Some of Arizona's councils of governments have been members of the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) since the 1970s. However, a 2003 attorney general's opinion stated these organizations were not true political subdivisions and called into question their ability to participate in the system.

Legislation was passed in 2004 to clarify that establishments such as the League could, in fact, be members of the ASRS. That legislature recognized that these associations, councils of governments and other like organizations are created by public bodies to conduct governmental functions so they should be able to participate in programs created for other government employees.

The vast majority of the League employees, past and present, have come from the Legislature or local government. Many of our former employees now work for cities and towns. Membership in the retirement system has been an important tool for attracting talented and experienced staff. The bill is awaiting final action on the House floor.

Local Mandates and Preemptions

Each legislative session numerous preemptions and unfunded mandates are introduced. The following are three that are currently moving through the process:

HB 2179 municipalities; counties; intergovernmental agreements; requirements

This bill is sponsored by Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita R-Scottsdale, LD 23. It requires municipalities to review all existing intergovernmental agreements and hold a public hearing to reaffirm them. It also limits all intergovernmental agreements to a maximum term of eight years.

We oppose this bill. We have not heard any concerns raised by the residents of cities and towns regarding our intergovernmental agreements. Further, it is the responsibility of our local elected officials to determine what is in the best interest of our communities regarding the duration of these agreements. The cost of reviewing these agreements is a waste of city resources and an unnecessary cost to taxpayers. The bill was scheduled for debate in the House on Wednesday, however, the sponsor held the bill from consideration.

HB 2212 federal financial assistance; reports

This bill is sponsored by Representative Vince Leach R-Tucson, LD 11. It would require all state agencies and political subdivisions to prepare an annual report detailing all of the federal funds they receive and to submit that information to the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA). Additionally, each agency or political subdivision would be required to have a plan in the event these funds are reduced. This information would be summarized by ADOA in a report that would be shared with the chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. These committees could use this information to reduce, eliminate or otherwise adjust future appropriations of state monies.

Cities and towns receive most of their share of revenues based on revenue formulas rather than direct appropriation. Local elected officials are in the best position to determine whether to seek federal funding and how to manage their own budgets. This bill unnecessarily intrudes into local decision making and is burdensome in its reporting requirements. The bill passed the House on Wednesday 31-28 and proceeded to the Senate.

HB 2495 consolidated election dates; tax authorization

This bill is sponsored by Representative Kevin Payne R-Peoria, LD 21. It would require any approval or authorization of a TPT assessment by a county, city or town to be held at a public election during the fall cycle of even numbered years. We testified that there may be circumstances when a city or town could not wait two years to go to their electorate on a tax question and that decisions about the timing of elections are best made at the local level.

The bill was amended to add a delayed effective date of January 1, 2018 and passed the House with a vote of 31-27. The bill proceeds to the Senate pending assignment to a committee.

All three of these bills represent unnecessary state intrusion in local authority.

Incorporation

The governor on Tuesday signed the first bill into law, HB 2088 incorporation; urbanized areas, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth R-Gilbert, LD 12. It allows citizens within area proposed city with a population larger than a nearby city to have a vote on incorporation despite the statutory three- and six-mile rule requiring approval from neighboring cities. The bill will become effective 90 days after the conclusion of the legislative session.

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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