Arizona House committee votes to extend Arizona Commerce Authority for additional five years

The state House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Monday voted to extend the Arizona Commerce Authority for an additional five years, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing legislative efforts to ensure the state’s lead economic development agency can continue its successful efforts to attract jobs to the state.

Last month, the same committee approved a bill by Rep. David Livingston (R-Peoria) to extend the ACA for four years, which was approved by the House with bipartisan support.

That bill, however, never received a hearing in the Senate.

Instead, the Senate Government Committee took up a measure to significantly alter the ACA’s structure and functions. The proposal was strongly opposed by the business community, whose advocates feared the potential negative repercussions of dismantling certain programs and reallocating functions.

Monday’s committee vote was made possible through the utilization of a strike-everything amendment, which entirely replaced bill language on an unrelated subject initially proposed by Sen. David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista).

Testimony in support of the five-year extension came from ACA President and CEO Sandra Watson and Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden, appearing in front of the committee for the second time, having previously spoken in favor of the original House bill.

Watson cited the ACA’s latest economic development wins, including the recent announcement that Intel had secured $20 billion in CHIPS Act funding as part of the company’s major expansion at its Chandler Ocotillo campus.

“We’re proud to work with our partners to win this project, which creates over 3,000 jobs for Arizonans,” she said.

Seiden said he thinks the latest proposal to extend the ACA for five years rather than the original four is wise.

“I think there’s value in taking this agency’s continuations into an odd (numbered) year when we’re not in the middle of a campaign, when we’re not in the middle of a highly political season,” he said. Seiden said the ACA should be outside the realm of politics, so the economy won’t become “collateral damage.”

The amended bill now heads to a vote by the full House, offering renewed hope for the ACA’s extension.

Assuming the House will again vote to extend the ACA, it will progress to a vote of the full Senate without the need for further committee deliberation.

Once passed by the Senate, it will head to Governor Katie Hobbs for her signature. The governor has underscored the importance of renewing the ACA, citing it as a priority for the current legislative session.

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