Mar 17, 2023 - Politics

Capitol roundup: A new Prop. 400 plan emerges

Illustration of the Arizona State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Proposition 400 renewal got fresh hope as lawmakers try to extend the Maricopa County transportation tax before it expires.

Driving the news: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday approved a plan that would refer a measure to the ballot to continue a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2004 but set to expire in 2025.

  • The committee passed the strike-everything amendment to SB 1246 on a 7-4 vote, with three Democrats and one Republican opposing it.
  • The plan would allocate 52% of the revenue for freeways and other routes in the state highway system, 22% for arterial streets and regional programs, and 26% for public transportation.

Yes, but: Though the public transportation funding could be used for light rail maintenance and operations, it could not be used to expand the system.

  • The lack of light rail funding led many Prop. 400 extension advocates to oppose another proposal that died in the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee last month.
  • It also prohibits any project that would eliminate existing lanes of traffic.
  • The Senate plan earmarked only 5% for public transportation.

What's next: Rep. David Cook, a Globe Republican who chairs the committee and crafted the proposal, said he's working with stakeholders on an amendment.

  • He tells Axios Phoenix that he doesn't know yet all that the amendment will do and is working with stakeholders and other lawmakers on details.

Catch up quick: Former Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed legislation last summer that would have referred the issue to the November 2022 ballot in Maricopa County.

The intrigue: Republican lawmakers advanced bills on partisan issues that lack Democratic support, a sign they likely won't be well-received by Gov. Katie Hobbs.

  • SB 1694, which would bar government entities from having diversity, equity and inclusion programs, awaits a final Senate floor vote after getting preliminary approval Monday.
  • On party-line votes, Senate Republicans passed two bills Thursday aimed at restricting drag shows.
  • House Republicans on Monday passed HB 2502 to extend child support payments to the date a woman's pregnancy was confirmed; Democrats claimed it's an attempt to establish anti-abortion "fetal personhood" policies.

1 big legal battle: Hobbs, GOP legislative leadership and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office are facing off in court over the governor's attempts to block the scheduled execution of Aaron Gunches, who was sentenced to death for a 2002 murder.

  • The governor and her corrections chief argued in a court filing that the state lacks the institutional knowledge and expertise to carry out an execution.
  • The Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma filed briefs arguing that Hobbs lacks legal authority to refuse to act on a warrant of execution issued by the Arizona Supreme Court.

🏛 This is a recurring feature giving you a roundup of the week's action at the Capitol.


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