Weekly Legislative Report
April 4, 2019
Committee hearings on bills are nearly over for the 2019 session of the Arizona Legislature, with the Appropriations committees in both houses hearing full slates of bills this week, many of them “strike-everything” amendments designed to give a struggling issue a final shot at staying alive. Floor action in both houses was slowed down as the House waited for a replacement to be named for Rep. David Stringer (R-Prescott), who resigned last week to avoid a continuing ethics investigation and possible expulsion. The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors yesterday named former State Senator Steve Pierce as the replacement to serve out the remainder of this legislative term. There is now again a 31-29 Republican majority in the House (at least 31 votes are needed for a bill to pass the full House).
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 about a month ago on a vote of 44-16, and was assigned to the Senate Transportation/Public Safety Committee, which approved the measure last week on a vote of 5-3. Today, the full Senate approved the bill on a vote of 21-8, and the measure now heads to the Governor for his signature or veto.
HB 2688 (NOW: peer-to-peer car rentals) 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 generally opposed by the peer-to-peer industry. Next stop for the bill is the Senate Rules Committee.
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 passed the full House on a vote of 44-16. It was then assigned to the Senate Finance Committee, which approved the bill last week on a 5-3 vote. Next stop for this bill is the Senate Rules Committee.
There are two different “distracted driving/no texting” bills that are still moving. The bill numbers are SB 1141 and SB 1165. 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. The House Transportation Committee approved SB 1165 three weeks ago, with an amendment added in the committee. SB 1141 passed the full Senate three weeks ago, and was also approved last week by the House Transportation Committee on a 4-3 vote. Both bills now await a hearing in 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. However, this bill has not advanced past the House Rules Committee and is now “dead” for the session.
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.
AzTA Executive Director