Business community touts legislative session wins

The second regular session of the 55th Arizona Legislature adjourned for the year early Saturday, bringing an end to a session that the president and CEO of the state chamber of commerce says featured several wins for the Arizona business community. 

“This was a winning session for Arizona businesses and taxpayers, and one that will advance and solidify our reputation as the best state in the country for job creators to relocate, invest and expand,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said. “Whether securing priority personal and commercial property tax reforms, further slashing regulatory burdens and government red tape on Arizona businesses, improving our state’s legal and tort environment, or making vital and historic investments in education, workforce, water and other critical infrastructure, the work of this Legislature has well-positioned Arizona for a future of strong and sustained economic growth.” 

Seiden pointed to significant business tax reforms that he says will solidify the state’s competitive standing. 

Gov. Doug Ducey in April signed into law legislation by state Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, that lowers to 15% the commercial property tax assessment ratio. Seiden and tax policy experts say a commercial property tax assessment ratio reduction is necessary to ensure the state’s continued economic competitiveness and to help reduce the disparity in the property tax burdens borne by commercial property taxpayers versus homeowners. 

The governor in March signed into law legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, that lowers the valuation on business personal property – things like machinery and equipment. 

“These tax reforms will lead to more job creation and investment,” Seiden said. “I applaud the governor and the Legislature for identifying the parts of our tax code that needed to be updated, modernized and simplified and that will keep the economy strong.” 

Also on the tax front, the Legislature will ask voters whether the state constitution should be amended to say that ballot measures calling for the approval of a tax should be approved by at least 60% of votes cast, rather than the current simple majority. Tax increases sought through the legislative process must receive a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to be approved, but that higher threshold does not exist at the ballot box.

The proposal will appear on the November general election ballot. 

“We’ve seen how out-of-state special interests have exploited the loophole in our law to pursue tax policy that would hurt Arizona job creators and taxpayers,” Seiden said. “The rules for passing a tax increase should be the same, whether you’re attempting to do it at the Legislature or at the ballot box.” 

The business community during the legislative session also successfully advocated for improvements to the state’s civil justice system. 

A bill to reform the way defendants are named in asbestos cases received bipartisan support and was signed into law in April. 

The legislation by Sen. Vince Leach, R-SaddleBrooke, curbs a common trial lawyer strategy of naming several parties in personal injury lawsuits related to asbestos exposure, even if those potential defendants’ connection to an injury was negligible. 

A bill to reduce regulatory burdens on business was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor that streamlines and simplifies regulatory policies while preventing the government from adopting new rules that inhibit job growth and economic development. Sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, and backed by the business community, the bill is designed to allow businesses a fair and impartial appeal of government agencies’ actions and allows businesses to recover the legal fees associated with appeals through the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).

Robert Clarke

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