The Battle Over Highway Funding Is Coming to a Head in the Arizona Legislature

The Battle Over Highway Funding Is Coming to a Head in the Arizona Legislature

By Pat Nolan |

Arizona legislators will soon have to choose between two very different plans to spend funding from the highway sales tax originally passed in 1985. One plan, SB1246 by Senator Farnsworth, would keep faith with the promises made to voters that the sales tax would fund highways to relieve traffic congestion around Phoenix.

The alternative proposal, SB1102 by Senator Carroll, would siphon off money from road projects and instead fund “green energy” giveaways proposed by the bureaucrats at the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). SB1102 proposes to divert $2 billion from highway construction to fund bike lanes, walking trails, bus lanes, and other unspecified “special projects.” In other words, it establishes a slush fund comparable to the “Green New Deal” of the Biden Administration.

The Farnsworth bill, on the other hand, will fully fund the freeway expansions promised to the voters, and there will be no green slush fund. Also, none of the transportation money could be used to remove traffic lanes to make room for bike paths.

It also requires government-subsidized transit to operate efficiently and recover 25% of the cost from the riders, as they promised. In reality, the government-run system falls woefully short of that requirement, collecting a mere 7% currently. Senator Farnsworth’s bill will make public transit meet their revenue projections. If they fail to do so, private companies could bid to provide transit services and guarantee the revenue as promised to the voters.

The Left’s fixation with public transit has resulted in hundreds of millions pouring into the black hole of failing transit systems. Yet, despite the clear evidence that transit systems run by the government are a white elephant, they keep pumping more tax dollars into them. They cannot point to any city where the ridership has met their projections. The reason is simple. When pollsters ask the public, they say they want more public transit. However, when asked if they intend to use it, they say they have no intention of using it. They want other drivers to use transit to get those cars off the freeways.

SB1102 would help MAG pursue their far-Left agenda, which now includes imposing California-like restrictions on Arizonans, including banning the internal combustion engine and gas appliances. We must end such power grabs by the bureaucracy, and the Arizona Legislature can start by killing this bill and passing Senator Farnsworth’s SB1246.

The late, great conservative Senator Everett Dirksen famously explained the thinking of legislators when he said, “When I feel the heat, I see the light.” Taxpayers can hold legislators’ feet to the fire by telling them to vote NO on SB1102 and AYE for SB1246.

Pat Nolan is the Director Emeritus of the Nolan Center for Justice at the American Conservative Union and lives in Prescott.

Bill Would Require New Homes To Have Designated Outlet To Charge Electric Vehicles

Bill Would Require New Homes To Have Designated Outlet To Charge Electric Vehicles

Monday afternoon the Arizona Senate Committee on Government will consider a bill sponsored by Sen. Victoria Steele (D-LD9) that would prohibit a municipality or county from issuing a single-family residential building permit unless there is a special dedicated outlet for charging an electric vehicle in a garage or within 10 feet of the home’s parking area.

Under SB1102, a residential building permit could not be issued for new construction or an addition if the structure does not have a 208/240 volt, 50-ampere, NEMA 14-50 branch circuit. The required electrical work could cost up to $2,000 depending on where the home is located.

The exceptions in Steele’s bill include building permits issued for a manufactured home, a residential structure of less than 1,000 square feet, and a residential structure whose main electric service would exceed 200 ampere with the addition of a 50-ampere circuit. The bill is opposed by the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.

SB1102 also appropriates $1,000,000 from the state’s FY22 general fund to the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) to help support electric vehicle charging options. One-half of the funds would go to a Ready Home Pilot Program to establish guidelines and standards for the installation of a high voltage electric vehicle charging outlet.

The program would also reimburse the owner of a single-family or multifamily residential structure for the cost -up to $1,000- of installing the outlet, until the appropriated funds are exhausted.

The other $500,000 appropriated by Steele’s bill would be used by ADOA to conduct a two-year “Charging Station Pilot Program” under which state agencies could apply for funds to install electric vehicle charging stations at agency locations.
The program would also allow private entities to install and operate a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station at various state properties, including the Legislature and property under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents.

However, Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai (D-LD7) put forth a proposed amendment on Feb. 12 which would make the charging outlet an option, not a requirement, to obtain a building permit. The amendment also drops the provision in Steele’s bill about allowing private operation of a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on state-controlled property.

If SB1102 -as introduced or amended- makes it out of the Government Committee it must then get past the Appropriations and Rules Committees, neither of which are scheduled to consider the bill this week.