Chandler Council hears forecast for legislative session - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler Council hears forecast for legislative session

December 25th, 2021 development

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Many of the same issues that came up this year at the State Capital are likely to come up again in 2022. But there will be some new wrinkles, including a flat tax and more changes to voting laws.

Those were among the highlights as Chandler City Council was briefed last week on what it can expect from the upcoming state legislative session that begins Jan. 10.

Another change is the number of new faces that have no history with Chandler officials.

“There’s been a lot of turnover,” said Ryan Peters, the city’s government relations and policy manager. “There’s a lot of legislators who are running for other offices and they’ve decided the best strategy for them is to resign their current office.”

Peters pointed out this will be Gov. Doug Ducey’s final year in office and that he continues to push for tax cuts. He and his allies passed a tax cut they are calling a “flat tax” that is scheduled to start in 2022.

His plan would create a flat tax rate of 2.5 percent. However, there was a referendum drive to overturn that because of the impact it will have on public education.

If that referendum is not stopped by courts, it is scheduled to be on the November 2022 ballot.

Alexis Apodaca, government relations coordinator, said last year cities and towns were able to win an increase in the municipal share of that tax from 15 to 18 percent.

That could impact Chandler in how much money the state has to dish out to communities in grants and other aid.

Another new issue could be more changes to election laws.

Peters said the Senate audit of the 2020 election continues to be a hot topic at the Capital, and some legislators want even more changes to existing voting laws.

“There’s a new chairmanship in the Senate on the committee that oversees election law,” Peters said. “The new chair of that committee has a lot of interest in taking audit findings and making changes to statutes.”

Peters said they will keep a close eye on any proposed changes to voting by mail, saying that it is popular and they’ve had no issues with it in Chandler.

Another tax will also be in the news next year as officials are expected to ask voters to extend the half-cent sales tax for transportation.

On the subject of transportation, Peters told Council there will be no light rail coming to Chandler. He said the focus remains on adding express bus service on Arizona Avenue and improving transit options for the Price Road Corridor.

He said Amtrak officials are pushing for a line between Tucson and Phoenix. It’s unknown what route that might take and if it may hit parts of Chandler or not.

“Amtrak and Amtrak stakeholders have been advocating for service in this area,” Peters said. “There’s a route kind of that bypasses Phoenix that assumes most folks are identifying with, or prime for investment in this area.

“You can tell transportation is going to be a big theme next year.”

The other major issues they intend to watch are land use zoning, and changes to building codes, telecommunication fees, and the most important concern in the desert, water rights.

Apodaca said they expect there to be a push to look at land use because of the lack of affordable housing in many parts of the state. That could mean proposing changes to zoning and building codes that would challenge local control.

One issue that is coming up is water because a number of cities and towns have been buying water from towns along the Colorado River. However, Apodaca said their state representatives are concerned because they believe they should be holding on to that water for their own development.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot of water, and water rights-related legislation coming up this session,” Apodaca said.

 

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