HOA reforms, SB 1454 and the inner workings of the legislature

Arizona’s Rep. Michelle Ugenti amended a bill in an underhanded tactic to bypass the Arizona Constitution[i] in her determined and overzealous efforts to have special laws enacted for special organizations. Attorney for the plaintiffs, Tim Hogan, Executive Director, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, explained the reasons for the complaint in his Arizona Horizon PBS interview.[ii]

In her interviews, Ugenti defended her amendment in terms of procedural legislative rules; my Staff said it was legal: “that the rules committee staff found her amendment to be germane to the original bill”[iii]  and “her additions to the bill are legal, if for no other reason than one of the changes does deal with elections.”[iv]    Her actions can be better understood in terms of the inner workings of state legislatures, so let’s examine the inner workings of the Legislature. 

The Bill to Law publication[v] of the Arizona Senate talks about the role of the Legislative (“Leg”) Council (my emphasis):

All proposed bills are drafted and prepared for introduction by the Legislative Council staff. Legislative Council may be requested to prepare a proposed bill draft by any legislator, by partisan staff at the direction of a legislator, or by direction from a committee of the Senate.

. . . .

Most importantly, legal staff in Leg Council may suggest changes intended to help the proposal pass Constitutional muster. For example, the Constitution (Article IV, Part 2, Section 13) [the very issue of the complaint] requires that, “Every act shall embrace but one subject and matters properly connected therewith…” If proposed legislation obviously covers two or more subjects, Leg Council will advise the sponsor that the bill must be trimmed, split into two or more bills, or face a potentially successful challenge on Constitutional grounds.

 The question remains: who told who?  And did Ugenti overrule the Legislative Council? Or, did the Legislative Council get it all wrong?  

And what about the Rules Committee, that functions as described in the Bill to Law publication[vi]:

Legislators on the Rules Committee, aided by advice from the nonpartisan Rules Attorneys, function as a sort of legal review panel for proposed legislation. Among other things, the Rules Committee reviews each bill for constitutionality . . . .  

It is in the Rules Committee that potential difficulties with constitutionality and form are worked out. In rare instances a bill is rejected entirely. Most often amendments are proposed to correct deficiencies noted by the Rules Attorney.

 In a surprisingly frank statement of the inner workings of the Legislature (my emphasis), 

It is not unheard of for proposed legislation to pass even though almost all parties know it will be ruled unconstitutional — sometimes there are political reasons for doing so. For the most part, though, a ruling by the Rules Attorney that proposed legislation is unconstitutional is enough to severely dim any chances of the proposed bill becoming law.[vii]

I guess the legislature “got caught with its pants down” with respect to SB 1454!  Or, is it a case of “The sovereign can do no wrong”?   I don’t think so under our constitutional system of government.

In regard to HOA legislation, the legislative inner workings are described in my latest Commentaries:

  1. CAI reacts to HOA Enlightenment Movement with targeted lobbying of legislators
  2. What is this “association law” thing all about?
  3. The questionable role of HOA attorneys
  4. SB 1454: crossing the line for HOAs

I raise the question once again: what was Ugenti’s motive for dogmatically and overzealously pursuing these HOA amendments?  Is she a diehard, true believer in HOA-Land?  Or, were there other factors that pressured or influenced her in her decision to sneak HOA reforms into SB 1454?



[iii] “Public interest group claims last-minute HOA bill is unconstitutional”, Arizona Capitol Times, July 16, 2013

[iv]Lawsuit filed against Arizona’s new HOA law”, East Valley Tribune, July 17, 2013.

[v]The Role of the Legislative Council,” From Idea ….. To Bill ….. To Law, State Senator Randall Grant (2000) , p. 29. (http://www.azleg.gov/alisPDFs/BillToLaw.pdf).

[vi] Id., “The Role of the Rules Committee”, p. 51.

[vii] Id., p. 51-52.

Published in: on July 27, 2013 at 11:28 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] However, in spite of statements to the contrary found in the Arizona State Legislature guides for the public, the legislature and individual legislators have failed to protect the people against the violations of the Arizona Constitution as in the case of the unconstitutional SB1454. They have ignored their duties, obligations and rules for the proper functioning of the Legislative Council and the Rules Committee. (See HOA reforms, SB 1454 and the inner workings of the legislature). […]

  2. Good job George…keep the pressure on!!!

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