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Budget--Environmental:
NOW: budget reconciliation; general government

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: SB1035/HB2645
Sponsor: R. Pearce
Legislative Session: 2009 Legislative Session

SB1035 contains a moratorium on development impact fees that prohibits imposition of any impact fees from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012.  It also contains language that that makes it more difficult for cities and towns to implement development impact fees and severely restricts the purposes for which they can be assessed.  For example, they can only assess impact fees (once the moratorium expires of course) for smaller parks of 15 acres or less.  It prohibits assessing them for large parks, riparian, historical and cultural facilities, among many other things.  Without impact fees the taxpayers will be subsidizing sprawl development even more – already impact fees do not cover the cost of development.  This is really just a hidden tax as well as a massive subsidy for the folks who brought us this mess in the first place.

In the strike everything amendment on HB2645, they are modifying the provisions dealing with both impact fees and the building codes.  It makes it “less bad” but it is still ridiculous and unnecessary and demonstrates exactly why we cannot make any headway in this state.  Rather than a moratorium on impact fees overall, they propose a two-year moratorium on the imposition a new development impact fee and on any increase in existing development impact fee.  God forbid that the cities actually recover the costs of these developments.  These provisions come compliments of the Homebuilders.  They have helped bring us the current mess and apparently plan to help us dig a deeper hole with provisions like this.  The bill sets up a commission to study impact fees as well.

 

HB2645 also modifies the building code provisions to implement the moratorium for two rather than three years.  Why they are freezing building codes is beyond me.  We need to implement new energy savings codes, especially during these economically challenging times.

 

It modifies the rule-making moratorium language relative to any rule that would cost anything to anybody.  An agency can’t conduct a rule making without the prior written approval of the Governor.  It also specifically exempts the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) or any agency that is headed by a single elected official – this is an improvement.  It modifies the language regarding the exemption for threats to public health and safety – you no longer have to die or get hurt during the fiscal year for that exemption to apply.  It exempts rules needed to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and also to replace archaic or illegal rules.  This section is a lot better, although we would argue that the moratorium is unnecessary.

 

SB1035 includes a limit on the applicability of new building codes to residential development approved prior to May of 2009.  New energy efficiency codes are absolutely necessary and should be applied to any construction that gets a future building permit.  These codes save the homeowners on their utility bills – perhaps they can afford their utility bill and their mortgage. Approval of a plat should not freeze a code.  This provision will put us further behind with improving energy efficiency in our state.  Building codes are also and primarily about public safety.  This provision could put the public at risk.  It is truly irresponsible.

 

SB1035 includes a rule-making moratorium for fiscal year 2009-2010.  First of all, this is unnecessary as the Governor has already implemented a moratorium on rule making.  Second, it could interfere with the Arizona Corporation Commission’s efforts to implement an Energy Efficiency Standard or other important rules.  Third, it is bad policy as the legislature passes laws that require rules for implementation.  This will just delay them.  It is not regulation that has hurt our economy.  It is lack of regulation.

There are also a number of concerns about the environmental budget reconciliation bill, SB1258, including the diversion of State Parks Heritage Fund dollars for fire suppression – we strongly oppose that – and a self-funding mechanism for the State Land Department without any accompanying reform.

We also object to the provisions which pre-empt local government’s ability to develop ordinances to regulate air quality relative to these large industrial agricultural facilities and PM10 emissions and instead shift any “regulation” to an agricultural best management practices committee.  This just means more foxes guarding the henhouse (literally, in the case of the henhouse, see provisions dealing with laying hen producers).

 

There is more, but you get the idea.

Status

To read the bill and see a more detailed status, click on SB1035.  There are now also trailer bills to the budget.  They make some changes to the bills they already passed, but did not convey. 

Action Needed

Thank Governor Brewer for vetoing the worst of the budget bills.  Call her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883.  You can email here by clicking on Governor Brewer and then filling in the online form.

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