Closing Businesses During Local Emergencies Would Be Prohibited Under Bill

Closing Businesses During Local Emergencies Would Be Prohibited Under Bill

By Terri Jo Neff |

A municipality’s mayor or the chairperson of a county’s board of supervisors would not have the authority to order any business closed during a declared local emergency, if a bill introduced by House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci is signed into law.

“Government should never have their hand in telling who can stay open, and picking winners and losers,” Biasiucci (R-LD5) recently said in support of House Bill 2107, which passed the House on Feb. 17 and was transmitted the next day to the Senate.

On Wednesday, HB2107 cleared the Senate Commerce Committee and now awaits further action in the Senate.  

Under current state law, a mayor or county board chairperson has authority to declare proclamations in response to a local emergency, such as from fire, flood, earthquake, explosion, war, bombing, acts of the enemy or other natural or man-made disaster or by reason of riots, routs, affrays or other acts of civil disobedience that endanger life or property.

Once a local emergency is declared, the mayor or chairperson may then impose “all necessary regulations” to preserve the peace and local order through curfews; closing of streets, public places, and build facilities; and utilization of law enforcement agencies. The forced closure of businesses is also currently allowed under state law.

HB2107, however, would amend state law to repeal the authority of local government officials from ordering business closures. The bill is opposed by some cities and towns as well as the County Supervisors Association of Arizona, but many business groups and associations are calling for its passage due to the financial impacts of having to comply with local emergency declarations.

Among the issues is the fact many communities saw small businesses and locally owned businesses forced shut while national corporate businesses like Walmart and Home Depot were allowed to stay open.