AZ’s ominous SB 1482: the return of unconstitutional SB 1454

As last year’s sponsor of the unconstitutional SB 1454 amendments, Rep. Ugenti, vowed to reintroduce the bill. The reincarnation of her trice failed bill is now the omnibus SB 1482.  It’s really her HB 2371 that had twice failed and she attempted to get it passed as part of Sen. Griffins’ SB 1454. (see AZ Attorney General admits SB 1454 HOA to be invalid and without effect).

As an omnibus bill it contains the 5 separate topics relating to HOAs, which make it an omnibus bill. They are: planning board prohibitions on requiring HOAs; permitting the display of political signs, regulations on renter rights and protections, and permitting unlicensed and untrained HOA managers to represent HOAs in small claims court and before administrative hearings.

Some say that omnibus bills help legislators better understand broad changes in the subject of the bill.  But, are the above mentioned 5 topics really related to make a better understanding of the broad changes? No, not all. They are just separate changes, separate bills, thrown together for a reason. And that reason, as attorney Tim Hogan pointed out last year, is to get bills that could not stand and get passed on their own lumped together to obtain sufficient support by giving something to every supporter. It also involves accepting changes to the law that are of no interest to or concern of the supporter. These other changes are an “I don’t care” attitude.  So omnibus bills become law based on “I don’t care” how these non-interest changes affect others.

For example, what has planning boards got to do with better understanding the need for HOA managers to represent HOAS?  Nothing!  It’s an evil, an undemocratic mechanism to get support for unwanted bills. “Because of their large size and scope, omnibus bills limit opportunities for debate and scrutiny. Historically, omnibus bills have been used to pass controversial amendments. For this reason, some consider omnibus bills to be anti-democratic.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnibus_bill). It forces an all or nothing choice.

Remember that it was Sen. Griffin, now the lead sponsor of SB 1482, who allowed her bill to be amended by Rep. Ugenti last year.  Apparently she was rewarded with the President Pro Tem position in the Senate.  And, Rep. Ugenti will get to hear the bill, if passed by the Senate, as she is Chair of the House Government committee.

Here we go again!  Kill the bill for a fourth time and force the legislature to introduce separate bills to allow a vote of one’s conscience and not an “I don’t care” vote.

AZ Attorney General admits SB 1454 HOA to be invalid and without effect

Pursuant to a consent agreement with the State of Arizona,[1] the Attorney General’s office admitted that SB 1454 violated the AZ Constitution and sections of SB 1454 relating to certain HOA statutes to be invalid and without effect on September 13th.  SB 1454 violated Article 4, Part 2, Section 13 of the Arizona Constitution.  On July 19, 2013 plaintiffs George K. Staropoli and William M. Brown had filed suit against the State of Arizona, CV 2013-009991,[2] seeking a declaratory judgment that SB 1454 violated the Constitution.

“The founders understood that the principal mission of government was to secure people in their natural rights — to protect them against the lawless private thugs as well as of ill-intentioned legislators.” Machiavelli and America, Hadley Arkes, p. 145, The Prince (Yale University Press, 1999).

The invalidated Sections are:  2, 3, and 15 – 17, 19 – 21 of SB 1454 (Ariz. Sess. L. Ch. 254). These sections affected the following Arizona Revised Statutes:  9-461.15, 11-810, 22-512, 33-1250, 33-1260.01, 33-1261, 33-1806.01, 33-1812, and 41-2198.01.  We believed that Section 18, adding ARS 33-1261(E) to the Condominium Act, is about political signs and relates to public elections. We agreed it is covered in the title subject of “elections” and is a valid statute.

Particularly disturbing was the amendments that granted special powers to HOA managers to represent HOAs in small claims court and in OAH hearings, powers that state Certified Legal Document Preparers do not possess. The litigation rights of homeowners were put at a disadvantage because they could not also have an untrained and unlicensed third-party represent them.

Many may believe that SB 1454 had HOA amendments that would benefit homeowner rights and this lawsuit removed these benefits.  The loss of these perceived benefits lies not in this victory, but in the acts of Rep. Ugenti who is responsible for attaching, at the last legislative session, her defeated HB 2371 to SB 1454.  SB 1454 now became a bill with two subjects in violation of the constitution.[3]

The consent agreement will become binding pending acceptance and signing of the order by the Superior Court judge, expected before the 13th.

I would like to thank Executive Director Tim Hogan, Staff Attorney Joy Herr-Cardillo, and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest for their outstanding support of the people.

 

References

advocates sue State of AZ for unconstitutional HOA amendments bill – SB1454

Staropoli & Brown v. State of Arizona, CV 2013-009991, July 16, 2013

Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, Attorneys for the Plaintiffs

Timothy M. Hogan, Joy E. Herr-Cardillo

 

flag-arizonaNATURE OF THE ACTION

 1. This action seeks a Declaratory Judgment that Senate Bill 1454 enacted by the Fifty-first Legislature, First Regular Session 2013 (“SB 1454”) is unconstitutional because it violates Article 4, pt. 2 §13 of the Arizona Constitution,

 PARTIES

 2. Plaintiff George K. Staropoli is a citizen of the State of Arizona. Mr. Staropoli is an activist who advocates on behalf of homeowners on issues and legislation involving homeowner associations (HOAs).

 

Read the complaint here . . .