Legislative Update

By Kathy Husser

The 2016 legislative session opened on January 11, 2016. The first week will see an influx of hundreds of new bills introduced. Bills AzLA will be watching include:

Open-carry gun legislation

Over the past several legislative sessions, there has been legislation that sought to allow persons with a valid concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm into a public establishment, including all libraries and public events, unless the public establishments had security personnel and electronic weapons screening devices at all entrances. AzLA has always strongly opposed this type of legislation and has worked with other opponents of the bill to defeat it. It is likely that AzLA will continue to see this type of legislation come up again, including during this upcoming session.

1% cost shift to counties

Last year, the 2016 Budget included a provision that upended the 35-year practice of the state paying the portion of the primary property tax that exceeds 1% of the cash value of residential property (a limit adopted in the Arizona Constitution in 1980) directly to school districts.

Senate Bill 1476 (K-12 Education BRB) caps the State’s portion of the additional state aid to schools at $1.0 million per county, and at the same time, shifts the full remainder of the burden directly to towns, cities, and counties.

This measure adversely affects Pima and Pinal Counties’ budgets having a trickle-down impact on library hours and staff. More counties will also be adversely affected by this measure in following years if not corrected. The provision is currently being litigated in Maricopa Superior Court, but the legislature and Governor’s office have stated that they want to fix the issue this coming session.

Legislation to support rural county services by levying secondary taxes or entering into an “Inter Government Agreement” (IGA) to provide such services

Over the past several years, Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) has sought legislation that seeks to limit how much a county-free library district can levy. It is vital for county library services that their levy capacity remains intact, particularly for the rural counties. Though ATRA passed a bill last session that requires special districts to have a truth-in-taxation hearing when they seek to levy an increase, they may still seek further limiting actions for library districts.

Santa Cruz and La Paz Counties do not currently have county-free library districts and are seeking to run legislation this coming session that allows them to enter into IGAs with other entities beside a city, town, or an existing county-free library district to provide library services to their communities.

New “Take Action” tool

A new platform introduced by ALA called “Engage” is a communication tool which has been implemented by our webmaster, Amanda Brite. You will begin seeing notices and action items that will promote advocacy on federal and state issues. AzLA needs members to voice their opinion and take action for AzLA to be heard.

Another way to help spread the word is to invite a legislator to visit your library. If you would like your State Senator or Representative to visit, please contact Kathy Husser or AzLA lobbyist Jessica Rainbow to help coordinate. Visits can include a brief stop during a library program or a tour of your building. Representative Jonathan Larkin visited Phoenix Public Library’s Yucca Branch on December 17, 2015, and participated in a babytime program facilitated by “First Things First”-funded programmers. Every connection helps AzLA bring our communities the resources needed for enriching library experiences! Thank you.

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