Last Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved SB 1217: Class Three Property Tax; Affidavit. As many of you will recall, last year the legislature passed HB 2001 in the Second Special Session. Buried within the 214-page bill was a policy change to reclassify second or vacation homes from Class 3 property to Class 4 property, thus removing their eligibility to receive the homeowners’ rebate. Despite the change in policy, the main problem with the bill was the creation of an affidavit that would be sent out with the notice of full cash value by each county assessor to the over 1.8 million homeowners in Arizona. The affidavit required the homeowner, under penalty of perjury, to attest that the home is their primary residence. If a homeowner did not return the affidavit in the time required, the property would automatically switch to a Class 4 property, and the homeowner would lose their rebate.
After many months of discussions with various county assessors, lawmakers and the governor’s staff, two bills have been brought forth by the Arizona Association of REALTORS® to address the problematic affidavit created by HB 2001. SB 1217: Class Three Property Tax; Affidavit, sponsored by Senator Andy Biggs, eliminates the current affidavit requirements and establishes that the county assessors are required to mail a notice every four years beginning in 2013 to each Class 3 property owner if the owner has a mailing address outside the county in which the property is located; has a mailing address that is different than the situs address or property (excluding post office boxes); has the same mailing address listed for more than one parcel of Class 3 property; or appears to be a business entity.
HB 2486; Homeowners’ Rebate Affidavit, sponsored by Representative Steve Court, has already received a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee where it was also unanimously approved. Although the underlying language of HB 2486 varies slightly from SB 1217, AAR lobbyists have been working with Representative Court, and he has agreed to sponsor a Committee of the Whole amendment, which would result in HB 2486 and SB 1217 being identical bills. Both bills passed through House Caucus and Senate Caucus today, and it is anticipated that they will continue to move quickly through the process.
Initial Budget Discussions
Last week, the Senate began holding small-group meetings on the budget. At these meetings, senators were briefed on the status of a joint Senate-House proposal. According to Senate President Pierce, “The starting point for discussions between lawmakers and Brewer’s office will be setting expected revenue.” At this time, the Senate-expected revenue numbers are said to be more conservative then the governor’s. President Pierce also noted that the legislative proposal does not contain any new spending.