the veridus weekly

03-01-2019

days of session: 47

Regular sessions shall be adjourned sine die no later than Saturday of the week in which the one hundredth day from the beginning of each regular session falls. The President and Speaker of the House may by declaration authorize the extension of the session for a period of not to exceed seven additional days. Thereafter, the session can be extended only by the Senate and House by a majority vote of the members present in each body. 


in focus

Tax Day is just six weeks away. Resolution to the brawl between legislators and Governor Doug Ducey over tax conformity may be much, much further.

At the heart of the contention is disagreement about not whether to conform, but how. A month ago, Governor Ducey vetoed GOP-favored legislation that would have cut income tax rates by an amount offsetting an estimated $150 million in higher taxes expected to be paid by Arizonans due to the state conforming with changes in the federal tax code adopted by President Trump in late 2017. The Governor called the legislative plan “irresponsible” in his veto message to legislators, preferring to use the revenue to bolster the state’s Rainy Day Fund. GOP legislators, meanwhile, say the Governor’s proposal amounts to a tax increase.

Stalemate, here we come.

The standoff leaves Arizona taxpayers with uncertainty as to the proper filing of their tax return. Tax forms issued by the Arizona Department of Revenue assume tax conformity will ultimately be adopted according to the Governor’s model. If that doesn’t occur, some tax experts say it may result in Arizonans needing to file amended returns at a later date and potentially facing added fees.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK TURNS 100

Arizona Daily Sun

As of Tuesday, the Grand Canyon National Park is now 100 years old.

In the grand scheme of things, the canyon is estimated to be over 2 billion years old. But local and state legislators, park employees, students and people from around the world came to pay their respects to the crown jewel of Arizona.

Katie Hobbs, newly elected Arizona Secretary of State, came and unveiled a new plaque to commemorate the 100 years of federal protections for the canyon. Hobbs felt while the Grand Canyon is protected by the federal government, the state’s actions to protect it during the shutdown showed Arizona’s dedication.

“Today there were so many messages about the Grand Canyon and how it’s an inspiration that the canyon is to get outdoors and be active but also that commitment to stewardship to ensure it's around for generations to come,” Hobbs said to the Arizona Daily Sun.

[...] Read more HERE.

ARIZONA'S ECONOMY: MORE SIGNS THE EXPANSION REMAINS ON A ROLL (AND MAY BE GETTING BETTER)

Arizona Republic

Arizona's economy isn't just rolling along but might actually be picking up steam, according to a couple of new assessments last week.

The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity projected the state will add nearly 166,000 jobs over a two-year period, and a visiting economist speaking in Phoenix said he sees no serious threats to the current expansion anytime soon.

Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics in Los Angeles said he expects 2019 to resemble last year in terms of employment, growth and other variables for Arizona. The state is getting a boost from an increase in newcomers moving here, he added.

[...] Read more HERE.  

HOUSE PASSES MOST SWEEPING GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION IN DECADES

Politico

In one of their biggest moments since winning the majority in November, House Democrats pushed through legislation on Wednesday mandating federal criminal background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions.

And for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democrats, it represents a signature moment as they try to live up to their campaign pledge to take action on gun violence.

The House passed the bill on a 240-190 vote. Eight Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats, while two Democrats — Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Collin Peterson (Minn.) — voted with Republicans against the legislation.

The background checks legislation faces stiff opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate, and President Donald Trump — who has strong backing from the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups — has vowed to veto the bill if it ever reaches his desk.

[...] Read more HERE.

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CAR-SHARING BILL PROTECTS CONSUMERS, PERSONAL FREEDOM

Arizona Capitol Times

Technological innovation is changing our lives for the better – driving consumer choice, marketplace competition and convenience unimaginable even a decade ago.

Want to get a meal delivered from your favorite restaurant? Request a ride from Uber or Lyft? Reserve a home via Airbnb or HomeAway? All of this and much more is at our fingertips with a few clicks on a smartphone.

Yet, with each technological advance we witness the same response as whatever legacy industry is being disrupted seeks the government’s assistance in burying the upstarts in red tape, taxes and fees. And all of this while cloaking its anti-competitive actions behind talk of “leveling the playing field” or “protecting consumers.”

Don’t believe it.

We’re seeing this same drama play out again as the car-rental lobby asks the State of Arizona to regulate a new peer-to-peer car sharing service out of existence. App-based companies like Turo and others allow people to make their privately-owned vehicles available for anyone else to reserve via an online platform. The vehicle owner sets the terms and price and the entire transaction occurs via the app, with the technology company taking a percentage.

It’s cashless and convenient. The attraction for consumers is obvious.

[...] Opponents of the new industry, led by the rental car conglomerates, propose legislation that would stop car sharing in its tracks. With SB 1305, they seek to treat each private citizen who lists their vehicle on an app as if they were a car rental company with a massive fleet. Never mind that Turo and similar platforms don’t own any vehicles and are no more a car rental company than Airbnb is a hotel.

Regardless, SB 1305 would heap fees and taxes on car sharing individuals while giving them none of the financial breaks enjoyed by the big rental car providers. Companies like Enterprise, for example, don’t pay sales tax on new vehicles – a tax break that saves them approximately $24 million each year. No such luck for private citizens like you, me and anyone using a car sharing app. As individuals, we pay sales tax at the time of vehicle purchase, as well as annual Vehicle License & Title fees based on the value of the car.

Thankfully, there’s a better way. We’re proud to sponsor and support HB 2559, bipartisan legislation that establishes necessary guidelines in areas such as insurance and public safety, while recognizing car sharing is a new business model with unique attributes and needs.

[...] State Rep. Travis Grantham is a Republican from Gilbert and the prime sponsor of HB 2559. He was elected in 2016. Rep. Robert Meza is a Democrat from Phoenix. He was elected in 2002.

Read more HERE.

HB 2559 AIMS TO FURTHER EXPAND ARIZONA’S SHARING ECONOMY

Goldwater Institute

Arizona’s sharing economy has become a beacon for other states looking to embrace new and innovative technologies. Often labeled “industry disruptors,” sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb and Uber have revolutionized consumer choices in home-sharing and ride-sharing, respectively. Pioneering peer-to-peer services have presented stiff competition for entrenched industries such as taxi services, hotels, and now rental car companies. One such disruptor is a type of car sharing technology known as peer-to-peer car sharing. People are now using app-based car sharing services to make their personal vehicles available for short-term use to others. Think of it as Airbnb for cars.

Like home-sharing, car sharing has become increasingly popular thanks to new technologies – and it has faced the same strong opposition from its existing competitors. Traditional service providers, including car rental companies, are pushing for the legislature to tax peer-to-peer car sharing services in the same way car rental companies are taxed. However, car rental companies do not pay sales tax on their fleet vehicles, while individuals buying a new car and using peer-to-peer car sharing services pay both sales tax at the purchase of their car and a yearly vehicle licensing tax.

Existing competitors made the very same arguments a few years ago when Uber and Lyft legislation was being considered in Arizona. Supporters of car sharing have the same reply – protectionist behaviors from traditional service providers are not a good reason to box out competition. Ultimately, it’s the consumers who win when more options are provided.

[...] Representative Travis Grantham’s HB 2559 will open Arizona to peer-to-peer car sharing by:

  • Establishing a peer-to-peer car sharing statute, recognizing that it is separate and apart from the rental car industry

  • Requires car sharing platforms to carry vehicle liability insurance

  • Gives airports the authority to negotiate with car-sharing platforms individually (the same precedent currently used with Uber and Lyft)

Indeed, several states have enacted legislation to foster, rather than to hamper, this new form of car sharing.

[...] HB 2559 allows Arizona to continue to be a leader in the sharing economy and empowers people to make positive economic use of their private property.

Read more HERE.

THESE CHARTER SCHOOL REFORMS AREN'T PERFECT, BUT THEY STRIKE THE RIGHT BALANCE

Arizona Republic

Opinion: Senate Bill 1394 offers real solutions that balance Arizona public charter schools’ autonomy with the accountability that we all expect.

For almost a year, Arizona’s public charter schools have been working together to address questions about governance and fiscal transparency for the state’s 556 public charter schools.

Understanding that the actions of a few outliers have rightfully caused concerns, the public charter sector has engaged in conversations with lawmakers, the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, the Attorney General’s Office, the Governor’s Office and community leaders.

The goal is to make sure all public charter schools reflect the high standards of integrity the vast majority of the industry embraces.

Elected officials took on the challenge and came up with Senate Bill 1394 – better known as charter reform legislation. After much debate, SB 1394 passed out of the Senate Education Committee this past week.

Some argue this bill doesn’t go far enough. Others oppose it for going too far. Many, however, believe this bill strikes the right balance.

[...] So, let’s explore SB 1394 and what it offers taxpayers.

The proposed legislation would require local governing boards to have at least three governing body members. It also specifies that not more than two immediate family members may serve simultaneously on the governing body of the same charter school. In addition, it would prohibit immediate family members from being the majority of the governing body members of the same charter school.

[...] Under SB 1394, the sponsor for a charter school must annually compile and publicly share information about the governance and operations of each public charter school it sponsors. These requirements rely heavily on the Form 990, used by the IRS to enforce spending, conflicts of interest, and purchasing regulations for non-profit organizations.

Non-profit public charter schools will share their Form 990, filed annually with the Internal Revenue Service. For-profit public charter schools would be required to disclose the same information.

In other words, taxpayers would be able to see and review financial information that meets – and in some cases, exceeds – the same information the IRS requires in order to remain a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in good standing with the U.S. government.

[...] It is sometimes said that the evidence of good policy is when no one is completely happy with it. If that is true, SB 1394 has all the makings of good policy.

The public charter school sector, lawmakers, community leaders, parents and stakeholders have worked together, at times making concessions, in order to create meaningful legislation that fosters renewed taxpayer confidence. Equally important, it ensures good stewardship of the investments in almost 200,000 students whose families choose charters. 

Read more HERE.

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