Sen. Farnsworth and Rep. Coleman shared info about 53rd session
Arizona Senator David Farnsworth and Representative Doug Coleman from Dist. 16 came before the Apache Junction City Council Feb. 6 to present some of their activities in the current legislative (53rd) session. Rep. Kelly Townsend, who was also scheduled to present, left the meeting about 60 minutes after it had begun and did not present.
Senator Farnsworth said that he had been “pondering” an extension of the Valley Metro bus route 30 from Sossaman east to Ironwood Dr. in Apache Junction.
He reported that, after a meeting with the head of Valley Metro Scott Smith, that the agency was not excited about the idea. The extension would require an additional 3 buses, which could be purchased with federal funds and an estimated $1 million a year in subsidies.
“We have a half a million people in this area with no bus system at all,” he said.
Sen. Farnsworth also invited the City Council to attend discussions on the North/South corridor, which will meet again the 3rd week of April.
Councilman Dave Waldron and Mayor Jeff Serdy both expressed a desire to have the corridor connect with US-60 further east than Ironwood Dr. or Idaho Rd.
Councilwoman Robin Barker thanked Farnsworth for his work with the League of Cities and Towns on the home business bill and asked him about progress on SB 1374, which addresses violation investigations by the attorney general of withholding of state shared revenues. Farnsworth stated that he was unfamiliar with the bill, but the chairman of the committee probably hasn’t allowed it to go forward.
Barker also asked him about a bill he is sponsoring, SB 1250, which would prohibit municipalities from restricting home-based food producers. Farnsworth said it was his concern that emergency food production could be hamstrung with local regulations.
“If we allow only the big food producers to control all the food in the state,” he said, “then if we have some kind of crisis, what are we going to do?”
Councilman Waldron asked Farnsworth about his level of support of local governance of businesses. “The most important business in America is the one that hasn’t started yet,” he said.
Farnsworth introduced two bills (SB 1001 and 1002) that would allow home-based businesses to operate with less restrictions. SB 1001 would allow commercial outdoor signage, retail-style shelving and storage, employing non-residents as well as selling both goods and services. Farnsworth said “The intent of the two bills was to encourage city councils to take a look at the home-based business regulations and see if they made sense.”
Councilman Jeff Struble agreed that he finds regulations to home-based businesses burdensome, but said that cities have to pay attention to zoning issues.
Before Senator Farnsworth stepped down, City Clerk Kathy Connelly mentioned that a roundtable discussion concerning tax collections would be an excellent idea. “I have been doing this for a long time,” she said. “I think the state is missing out on some very important opportunities by not liening businesses that have been audited—some of these are foreign companies, some of these are out of state companies—and what the Arizona Department of Revenue has stated to us, they don’t place liens. When we collected our own taxes, we were very successful in getting our money by placing liens.”
When Representative Doug Coleman addressed the Council, where he served for 15 years as both council member and mayor, he recalled a home-based business zoning dispute from the past. “When I came to the council in 1991, one of the first big issues we dealt with was pot-bellied pigs. We had someone buy a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home in my subdivision and turn it into a breeding ground for pot-bellied pigs. You would go from room to room and they’d have different ages and sizes of the pig.” His story was an illustration of how he has had to mitigate and come to a resolution, “hopefully without having to do a city ordinance.”
Rep. Coleman also mentioned a bill that was killed in this session, HB 2032, which would have made municipal elections partisan by identifying candidates’ party affiliation on the ballot.
Rep. Coleman had an observation and history lesson to impart to those in the legislature who say Arizona cities owe their existence to the state. “George W.P. Hunt had already been elected mayor of Globe in 1904, before he served at the Arizona state constitutional convention and before he served as the state’s first governor. Just a little history lesson on the relation between state and local government.” Globe was recognized as a city before Arizona became a state.
But he said that some issues are statewide and have to be handled that way. “I can’t imagine having a minimum wage for Apache Junction and a minimum wage for Mesa and a minimum wage for Tempe... to me that’s a statewide concern.”
Rep. Coleman said that he is not the gatekeeper for a lot of the local bills. He told the council about a bill he has sponsored which recently made it out of committee. It would allow a local city candidate to transfer funds from their local campaign chest to be used in a state election. He hopes it will encourage more city officials to run for state office.
Photo above: Sen. Farnsworth (left) and Rep. Coleman (right)