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Arizona League of Cities and Towns lobbying priorities

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The Arizona League of Cities and Towns lobbying priorities were the legislative issues the Arizona League of Cities and Towns prioritized in 2009.[1]

Housing Trust Fund

Introduced by Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona

The Housing Trust Fund, or "HTF," is administered by the Arizona Department of Housing. It has provisions for homeless shelters, emergency response to fire closures, health and safety repairs for the elderly and disabled, and homeownership opportunities. The Arizona League of Cities and Towns was opposed to the proposed $10.2 million dollar reduction in funds for the HTF program.

Economic development

Introduced by Flagstaff, Willcox, Buckeye, Queen Creek, Yuma

The Arizona League of Cities and Towns was for increased Arizona state funds to be dispersed to localities for the purpose of strengthening local economies. This is because it believed that local Arizona economies were weak because:

  • State and international competition
  • Cost of living as compared to average wages
  • A lack of economic tools
  • A lack of strong state funding

It supported programs like the Government Property Lease Excise Tax and funds for offering job training.

Local involvement in liquor licensing

Introduced by Prescott Valley, Scottsdale, Cottonwood, Phoenix, Bullhead City, Kingman

In order to address concerns such as:

  • Crime,
  • Noise violations,
  • Parking issues,

the Arizona League of Cities and Towns wanted to require the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, and the State Liquor Board, to give greater consideration to city recommendations on proposed liquor licenses.

Examples they gave of policies they would support:

  1. Cities should have the ability to request a hearing on the renewal of a liquor license that residents of that city may oppose.
  2. In the chance that the municipality wants to deny a request, but the board wants to pass it, a 12 month permit will be issued in the place of a license renewal.
  3. The League wants licenses to include bar parking lots and liquor store parking lots.
  4. The League wants to "Hold license applicants accountable to commitments made during the application process."
  5. Seats would be created in the State Liquor Board for a municipal law enforcement representatives.
  6. The "municipality's concerns regarding the owner/manager" of a business requesting a license or renewal will be strongly weighted, particularly when these concerns are supported by "factual research" and show poor past performance.

Costs: The League predicted the costs would be negative for the town, as it would lead to increased safety and a need for fewer enforcement resources.

State statutes on request proposals

Introduced by Prescott, Prescott Valley, Bullhead City

When a town prepares to solicit professional services, it creates a Request for Proposal/Statement of Qualitifcations (RFP/SOQ). Currently, state law does not permit cities and towns to request a price range for service fees, which results in a city negotiating with a firm for weeks to find out that service fees of the firm exceed the budgeted amount for services. After rejecting the firm for this reason, the selection process begins anew. The League of Cities and Towns believed this results in increased costs passed on to city residents.

Physician attraction and retention

Introduced by Sierra Vista, Flagstaff, Huachuca, Willcox, Douglas, Bisbee, Benson, Oro Valley, Prescott

The League strongly supported the implementation of the 2006 Governor's Emergency Medical Services Access Task Force recommendations to address Arizona's shortage of physicians. These included:

  • Increasing Graduate Medical Education funding
  • Making medical school capacity greater in state universities
  • Making Arizona more attractive to out of state physicians, and retaining them
  • Lessening the obstacles to medical practice in Arizona
  • A focus on any other major issues that influence a physician's decision to practice in Arizona.

Uniform property tax assessment

Introduced by Sedona, Camp Verde

Affordable housing programs in Arizona use deed-restriction to limit the price at which homes can be resold. Current policy allows individual county assessors to individually decide which method to use when assessing properties. This lack uniformity can lead to owners losing money on their homes to the point where they become unaffordable. The League was in support of a uniform property tax assessment methodology for this reason.

Cost of public records requests

Introduced by Prescott, Prescott Valley, Bullhead City

The League wanted an amendment to Title 38 to provide additional funds for public records requests "in excess of 100 pages of documents, or those which involve substantial amounts of research, location, and assembly time by city staff, [or involve] in excess of one hour of staff time," and asked that these be billed at the actual costs of the clerical and staff time involved in processing the request.

Anti-drug grant

Introduced by Cottonwood, Prescott, Chino Valley, Camp Verde

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, or Byrne/JAG, is a partnership among federal, state, and local governments to fund Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking and other anti-drug and anti-gang programs.

Immigration reform

Introduced by Prescott, Prescott Valley

The Arizona League of Cities and Towns was asking for increased federal focus on solving problems that arise from illegal immigration. Specifically:

  1. The creation of a guest worker program
  2. Increased border security
  3. Reimbursement to localities for enforcement of federal immigration mandates
  4. Public information on the problems caused by illegal immigration

Graffiti

Introduced by Phoenix, Buckeye, Surprise, El Mirage, Peoria

The League supported stricter penalties for graffiti crimes, the cost of which burdens private owners and public property. Graffiti crime was expected to cost the City of Phoenix $4 million in removal costs in FY09, for example.

City and county wastewater emergencies

Introduced by Phoenix, Marana, Mesa, Peoria

Currently, city and county governments can enter into agreements with each other, but not with private utilities and before any services are required. Arizona law prohibits local governments from entering into agreements with private utilities related to emergency water or wastewater, and the League proposed to change that.

Nonpartisan local elections signature requirements

Introduced by Scottsdale, Chandler

Candidates for City Council in at-large cities must collect valid signatures equal to five-percent of the total number of votes cast in the previous mayoral election. This creates a higher threshold for cities with high voter turnout as compared to a similar sized city with a low voter turnout. The League wanted to allow municipalities to decide whether they want to use existing signature requirements, or cap them.

Publishing government documents online

Introduced by Yuma, Quartzsite, Apache Junction Nogales, Flagstaff, Paradise Valley

In Arizona, there are 26 statutes that require cities and towns to publish notices, agendas, financial reports, and other official documents, some of which require specific font types and size. These documents currently need to be published in a newspaper with general circulation and a substantial audience. The League of Arizona Cities and Towns supported a change in policy which would allow the documents to be published online, positing that this would be cheaper, more accessible, and more convenient for the consumer and the local government.

Military

Introduced by Avondale, Peoria

There are five major military installations across Arizona, and these are Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Army Intelligence Center & Fort Huachuca, Luke Air Force Base, Yuma Army Proving Grounds and Marine Corp Air Station - Yuma. These provide economic strength, according to the League, which wanted to continue the funding and support for the following legislative successes:

  • "enhanced notification requirements of proposed development in the vicinity of military airports;"
  • "heightened disclosure on the sale of land within the vicinity of military airports;"
  • "a chart of compatible land uses within high noise and accident potential zones;"
  • "sound attenuation standards for development near military airports;"
  • "statutes prohibiting natural gas storage facilities within nine miles of military airports;"
  • "zoning protections around auxiliary fields to mirror those around primary military airports;"
  • "a “Military Installation Fund” used to buy land near bases or finance infrastructure improvements;"
  • "notification to potential homebuyers under military training routes of military activity overhead."

Collective bargaining

Introduced by the League Staff, approved by the resolutions subcommittee

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns opposed federal efforts to require cities and towns to follow federally mandated collective bargaining standards, specifically the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007.

IRS pension reform rules

Introduced by the League Staff, approved by the resolutions subcommittee

The IRS has not responded to comments which it requested on its Final Regulations in the Federal Register, regarding distributions from a pension plan and what "normal retirement age" consists of. The League of Arizona Cities and Towns opposed the elimination of "age plus years of service" formulas in public pension plans.

See also

References