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AzTA ADVOCACY

Weekly Legislative Report
February 28, 2019 


This was “crossover” week in the 2019 session of the Arizona Legislature, featuring lengthy floor calendars designed to move bills out of their “house of origin.”  As is customary, only the Appropriations Committees and Rules Committees in both houses met this week, with all other committees taking the week off from hearings to focus on floor action.  Regular committee hearings will begin again next week, with House bills being heard in Senate committees, and vice versa.
 
A few substantive bills remain that are of direct interest to AzTA. These and others are included here for your review and direction.
 
HB 2559 (peer-to-peer car sharing), sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert), would establish a new statutory category for “peer-to-peer” car rentals.  This would on the surface seem to resemble the recent legislative effort by companies like Uber and Lyft to establish separate legal and regulatory schemes for “ride share” private vehicles used in the paid transportation of passengers.  In this case, the private vehicles would be rented to other individuals.  The proposed law states that the regulation of peer-to-peer vehicles is of “statewide concern” and not subject to further regulation by municipalities, and features parameters for insurance and peer-to-peer contracts.  The bill has was assigned to the House Commerce Committee, which approved the bill on a unanimous vote, but not without more than an hour of contentious debate and a significant amendment.  HB 2559 is generally supported by the peer-to-peer industry and some insurance companies, and opposed by the rental car industry.  It was approved today in the House Committee of The Whole (floor) with a significant amendment, and now awaits a final vote in the House.
 
The opposing bill is SB 1305 (peer-to-peer car rentals), sponsored by Sen. David Livingston, which takes a very different view of the issue and requires peer-to-peer vehicles to comply with many of the laws now in place for traditional rental car companies.  This bill is strongly supported by the existing rental car industry, many local communities, the League of Cities and Towns and major airports, and strongly opposed by the peer-to-peer industry.  The bill passed the Senate Rules Committee this week, and is likely to see significant amendments before moving to the full Senate floor for consideration.
 
There are two different “distracted driving/no texting” bills that are still practically viable.  The bill numbers are SB 1141 and SB 1165, each referred to the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committees.  Each features a different version of the same basic idea of prohibiting the use of a smart phone or other such device for text messaging while driving, but with key differences.  SB 1165 (sponsored by Sen. Kate Brophy McGee) appears to have the strongest support, but SB 1141 (sponsored by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, which more broadly defines “distracted driving”) also was supported and both easily passed the Senate Rules Committee this week.  Both bills now move to the Senate floor.
 
HB 2109 (county transportation excise tax), sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope, and the only current bill that directly affects transit funding, will allow Pima County to ask voters to approve a ½ cent increase in its transportation excise tax to support the construction, maintenance and repair of streets and highways in the county.  Any other Arizona county could theoretically use the bill for a similar purpose, except for Maricopa County, whose authorizing statute is in another section.  The bill was referred to two House committees, Ways and Means, and Transportation, and easily passed both committees last week.  The next stop is the House Rules Committee.
 
HB 2536 (fuel; electric cars; hybrids; taxes), sponsored by Rep. Noel Campbell, was passed the House Ways and Means Committee, but with an amendment that strips out the gas tax increase provisions altogether.  It would appear that Rep. Campbell’s effort to increase the gas tax is all but dead at this point.  What remains in the bill are provisions to allow more parity among types of vehicles, resulting in small increases to fees charged for electric, hybrid and natural gas vehicles. There is also a provision in the bill requiring ADOT to study the feasibility of converting fees for such electric or hybrid vehicles from flat fee to some other method.  The bill requires a two-thirds approval vote in each house (rather than a simple majority vote) because it would increase state revenues.  The next stop is the House Rules Committee.

These issues are being tracked in our on-line legislative tracking service, which you can access here for automatically-updated AzTA bill information, with our comments in red. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Becky Miller
AzTA Executive Director
602.550.3265
bmiller@azta.org

AzTA is a non-profit statewide organization dedicated to improving
public transportation in all Arizona communities.
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