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Arizona Legislature Update: Net Metering Proposed, Supreme Court Upholds District Maps, Prop 123 Up for Vote

Posted on | April 26, 2016 | Comments Off on Arizona Legislature Update: Net Metering Proposed, Supreme Court Upholds District Maps, Prop 123 Up for Vote

The East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance, of which the Tempe Chamber is a member, released a legislative update for April 2016.

This week in Arizona we are still waiting for the Legislature to introduce a budget.  Though the session is supposed to run 100 days, Friday was day 103.  There has been very little movement on the remaining bills and the Governor has not signed nor vetoed any others.  Rumors are circulating that a budget may be introduced on Monday or Tuesday.

Net Metering Ballot Measure Proposed

A ballot initiative that would freeze net metering policies in place for the next six years has been brought forward by former Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes.  “Yes on AZ Solar” would make utilities to pay solar users the full retail rate for  excess energy and prohibit the utility from instituting demand charges to pay for their fixed costs.  SolarCity has given $3 million to the IE backing the measure, Energy Choice for America, which is chaired by Mayes.    APS and the utilities will be opposing the measure.  “This is a ridiculous attempt by California billionaires to get richer by forcing higher energy costs on Arizona consumers.  It works against Arizona families and is detrimental to sustainable solar in Arizona,” APS spokesman Jim McDonald said.   The measure will require about 225,000 signatures by early July in order to qualify for the ballot.

While Commissioner Andy Tobin has shared decidedly neutral thoughts on the proposal, Commissioner Doug Little has come out opposed.   He called the measure a one-size-fits all approach that would tie the hands of the Commission.   “To me, to actually preserve a company’s business model in the Constitution of the State of Arizona is absolutely unprecedented.  This is not about solar. It’s not about green. It’s not about anything like that. What this is about is the solar companies in California protecting their business model,” said Little.

Senator Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) confirmed yesterday that she will work with APS and other stakeholders to put forth a competing referendum. As time is limited, they would have to secure a viable resolution that can be used as a striker vehicle.   “I’m afraid that the initiative that has been filed on Friday would increase the cost to the majority of the ratepayers by guaranteeing that rooftop solar companies get retail rates, and also that they’re subsidized, and the rest of the people would have to cover the cost for it,”  Lesko told the Yellow Sheet.   At this time, we do not have further details about what the competing resolution would look like.

Former Chandler Mayor Joins Corporation Commission Race

The race for the three seats on the Corporation Commission got a little  more crowded this week when former Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn announced his candidacy.  Dunn was Mayor of Chandler from 2002-2011 and served on the City Council prior to that.

Current candidates include: incumbent Commissioners Bob Burns (R) and  Andy Tobin (R), former state lawmaker Al Melvin (R), Representative Rick Gray (R-Sun City), former Coconino County Supervisor and legislator Tom Chabin (D), and former commissioner Bill Mundell (D).

2011 Legislative District Maps Upheld by Supreme Court

On Wednesday the US Supreme Court unanimously upheld the 2011 legislative district maps drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission.  In the opinion written by Justice Breyer, he wrote that the population deviations that the IRC made were done in an attempt to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

“We believe that appellants failed to prove this claim because, as the district court concluded, the deviations predominantly reflected commission efforts to achieve compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, not to secure political advantage for one party,” Justice Breyer wrote.

Ducey and DuVal Team Up for Prop 123

Fred DuVal and Governor Ducey may have squared off in 2014 during the gubernatorial race, but last week they united in support of Prop 123.   Though DuVal has shared that the plan isn’t exactly what he would have done if he had been elected, it is “the politics of the possible”.   “There’s lots of things to disagree on. Doug and I disagree on a lot of things. We agree on this, that education is the principal strategic policy facing the state of Arizona at this time in terms of our students, in terms of our employers, in terms of our ability to compete,” said DuVal.   The measure will be decided on in a special election on May 17th.

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