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Governor Ducey Vetoes Water and Development Bills

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By Patrick J. Paul

With the second regular legislative session of Governor Doug Ducey’s tenure complete, the Governor exercised his veto pen rejecting several laws impacting water and land development.

On May 9th, Governor Ducey vetoed two measures that could have allowed developers to manipulate the requirements of Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act of 1980: Senate bills 1268 (adequate water supply requirements) and 1400 (county water supply).  The bills’ sponsor, Senator Gail Griffin, had expressed concerns that the federal government was exercising too much control of the water supply in Cochise County in its efforts to ensure the continued flow of water in the San Pedro River.

In his veto letter, Governor Ducey stated “ensuring the certainty and sustainability of Arizona water is a top priority. I will not sign legislation that threatens Arizona’s water future.” He further highlighted the prior historic work of Carl Hayden, Mo Udall, and John Kyl and expressed a commitment to implementing additional conservation opportunities and exploring new sustainable water sources for Arizona.

The following day, Governor Ducey vetoed House Bill 2568, which would have provided developers the authority to levy property taxes on homeowners. The bill, sponsored by Speaker David Gowan, provided any developer in control of 600 acres or more the authority to establish a community facilities district without city approval.  Community facilities district boards typically issue tax-exempt bonds to cover infrastructure costs, then levy a tax on properties within the district to pay off the bill.  The bill had divided the homebuilder community and was roundly criticized by cities and towns whom argued that it was not in the public’s interest to provide