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AzTA ADVOCACY

Weekly Legislative Report
March 7, 2019 


The “second half” of the 2019 Arizona legislative session is fully underway, with committee hearings this week of Senate bills in the House, and vice versa.  Friday, March 29 is the final day for bills to be heard in committees in both chambers, other than the Appropriations committees or those with special permission.  The next three weeks will see a number of bills either survive or likely be done for the year, and will also certainly feature many different “strike everything” amendments on a wide variety of issues.
 
A few substantive bills remain that are of direct interest to AzTA. 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. 
 
HB 2109 (county transportation excise tax), sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope, and the only 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 passed the full House this week on a vote of 44-16, and now has been assigned to the Senate Appropriations and Transportation/Public Safety committees.
 
SB 1305 (peer-to-peer car rentals), sponsored by Sen. David Livingston, 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 full Senate today on a strong vote of 27-3 and now heads to the House, where it will meet up with supporters of the peer-to-peer industry who prefer a different bill.
 
The opposing bill is HB 2559 (peer-to-peer car sharing), sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert), and it takes a different view, establishing a new statutory category for “peer-to-peer” car rentals.  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.  HB 2559 is generally supported by the peer-to-peer industry and some insurance companies, and opposed by the rental car industry.  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.  It was approved last week in the House Committee of The Whole (floor) with a significant amendment, and now awaits a final vote in the House.
 
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 last week.  SB 1165 was approved by the full Senate yesterday on a vote of 20-10, and now moves to the House.  SB 1141 still awaits Senate floor action.
 
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, which did not hear the bill this week, signaling possible jeopardy for this legislation.

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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