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Ducey Vetoes Speaker’s Outgoing Gift

Outgoing Arizona House Speaker David Gowan (R) did his best to give developers in his state a gift last week by securing the passage of a pet bill of his allowing them to create “community facilities districts” without city approval. The bill, HB 2568, was approved unanimously in the House in February and passed by the Senate on a 21-8 vote last week after being amended. But that fell short of the 31 votes it needed for final passage in the 60-member House, despite pleas from Gowan for his colleagues to change their minds.


“I would ask two of you, from an old speaker going out, to vote ‘aye,’” he told them.


A couple of hours after the failed vote, Republican Reps. Rusty Bowers, Phil Lovas, Warren Petersen and Michelle Ugenti-Rita reconsidered, shifting their votes and sending Gowan’s bill to Gov. Doug Ducey (R).


Local governments and some developers opposed the bill. For decades community facilities districts have enabled Arizona developers and cities to work together to pay for infrastructure for new developments, typically through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds. But developers have always had to apply to cities for permission to establish such districts. Gowan’s bill would eliminate that requirement for developers who controlled over 600 acres of land and also create community facilities governing boards that would likely favor developers. And opponents argued that those changes would basically amount to giving unelected officials the power to tax.


“Ultimately, it’s shifting the ability to tax residents to developers,” said Brent Mattingly, CFO for the city of Peoria.


And Mattingly said that won’t be good for homeowners.


“The developer is not going to put in the same kind of protections as a city would,” he said. “They want to pass the cost of these improvements on to the residents...and they don’t have the same concerns as a city council would.”


Gowan argued his bill would boost economic development, particularly in the southern part of the state where his district is located. But some said it was aimed more at furthering his political aspirations. He’s seeking the Republican nomination for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District in the fall. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t enough for Ducey, who vetoed the measure last Tuesday. (ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX], LEXISNEXIS STATE NET)