A number of new laws will be implemented over the course of the coming year that will affect area municipalities and their citizens. Here is a partial list of the new laws, as reported by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. For a complete listing, go online to http://www.azleague.org/.
In the past session, 1,205 bills, and 103 memorials and/or resolutions were introduced in the House and Senate. Of these, 303 passed the legislature and were sent to the governor, and 278 were signed into law.
2014 City/Town Elections
This law requires the majority of votes cast in a primary election for mayor or city council to be determined by calculating the total number of actual votes cast for all candidates for that office whose names were lawfully on the ballot; divide that sum by the number of seats to be filled for the office; then divide that number by two and round it to the highest whole number.
The candidates who receive a majority of votes cast, and who receive the highest number of votes equal to the number of seats to be filled for the office, are declared elected to that office. If, at the primary election, no candidate receives the majority of the votes cast or the number of seats to be filled for the office is more than the number of candidates who receive a majority of votes cast, then the number of candidates who advance to the general or runoff election must be twice the number of seats to be filled for the office.
Additionally, the candidates who received the highest number of votes for the office in the primary election must be the candidates at the general or runoff election. If more than one candidate received an equal number of votes and that number was the highest number of votes for that office, then all candidates receiving the equal number of votes shall be candidates at the general election or runoff election. The candidates who received the highest number of votes at the general or runoff election are elected to that office. If two or more candidates receive an equal number of votes cast for the same office and a higher number of votes than any other candidate, the elected candidate must be determined by lot in the presence of the candidates.
City Or Town Council Vacancy
This new law clarifies that if any member of a city council ceases to be a qualified elector or resident of that municipality at any time during the member’s term of office, that council seat must be deemed vacant. The law directs the vacancy to be filled in the same manner as any other vacancy on the council. The county attorney, for the county in which the municipality is located, is required to investigate, on request, and determine whether a vacancy exists.
Under this law, any payment or other material dealing with taxation other than petitions or notices of appeal that is required to be filed with the state or any agency or political subdivision is considered timely if performed by the taxpayer within five business days after the due date if it does not contain a postmark or other official mark of the U.S. mail.
Refined Coal Transfer
This law creates a new exclusion from retail, mining and use taxes by stating that the transfer of coal back and forth between the owner of a power plant and the refiner of the coal, when the transfer is for the purpose of refining the coal, is not considered a sale. Municipalities are similarly preempted. These changes are retroactive effective from and after Dec. 31, 2014.
Sales Tax: Reduced Reporting Requirements
This law allows taxpayers with annual transaction privilege tax (TPT) liability between $2,000 and $8,000 to pay TPT on a quarterly basis instead of a monthly basis and taxpayers with annual TPT liability of less than $2,000 to pay on an annual basis.
This measure provides the funding for the operation of state government for fiscal year 2014-15. Specifically, $89.2 million is diverted from the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) to the Department of Public Safety for agency operations.
Budget Reconciliation 2014-15
Among other changes, $30 million is appropriated from the state general fund to the HURF to be distributed according to the following breakdown: counties, 33.23 percent; incorporated cities and towns, 48.097 percent; incorporated cities with a population of 300,000 or more, 5.247 percent; and counties with a population of more than 800,000, 13.425 percent. Compared to the current fiscal year, an additional $14.4 million will be distributed amongst all cities and towns.
State Parks Donations
The bill creates the Sustainable State Parks and Roads Fund, and allows taxpayers to make a voluntary contribution from their state tax refund to the fund, as well as other voluntary donations whether a refund is applicable or not. The fund will be used to operate, maintain, and make capital improvements to buildings, roads, parking lots, highway entrances and any related structure used to operate state parks.
Makes changes in eligibility requirements for the Arizona State Retirement System as outlined in House Bill 2050.
Court Ordered Evaluations
Peace officers may detain a person believed to be a danger to self or others based on probable cause, rather than observed behavior.
This law expands the list of offenses that preclude a person from receiving a fingerprint clearance card. The bill also requires the Department of Public Safety to do periodic background checks on cardholders.
Lawful Discharge Of Firearms On Private Land
A person may now discharge a firearm within a quarter-mile of an occupied structure if the person has the permission of the property owner. The bill also prohibits political subdivisions from enacting ordinances that regulate the discharge of firearms, air rifles or archery equipment on land that is not open to the public or commercially used.
Criminal Damage: Economic Costs
Victims of criminal damage, especially graffiti, can recover full economic costs from the perpetrator, including equipment costs, for the abatement of the damage.
Misconduct Involving Weapons: Judicial Officers
Judicial officers may carry firearms in courthouses if they demonstrate competency with a firearm and are in compliance with the presiding judge of their court. The bill does not pertain to hearing officers and part-time judicial officers pro tempores.
Used Motor Vehicle: Definition
Under this law, a person is permitted to sell a maximum of six used motor vehicles in a contiguous 12-month period without being licensed as a used motor vehicle dealer. The previous law permitted three such sales annually.