Monday, April 11, 2011

SB1460: A "birther" bill aimed at neighborhood activists

Some people, including a few that I'm related to, scoff when others, including me, make the argument that the Republican Party's real agenda is, and has been for years, the protection and furtherance of the interests of Big Business and the wealthy (yeah, that's a little redundant, but just go with it  :) ).

Sometimes they don't hide that fact - witness the never-ending stream of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest 1%.

Other times, they try to hide it by burying it deep in "housekeeping" bills such as omnibus measures that make a lot of small changes to law.

Witness SB1460 (House floor amendment here), which passed House Committee of the Whole (COW) consideration on Monday.

It started its legislative existence as a short measure with the innocuous-sounding subject of "liquor licensees; records." 

And it actually *was* innocuous, being little more than a technical change.

Then it was amended in the Senate into a "liquor omnibus" bill, pushed by current state senator and likely future Congressional candidate Michele Reagan (R-North Scottsdale).

Buried among all manner of small revisions to liquor law is one rather stinky nugget regarding the ability of neighborhood groups to have input on proposed liquor licenses in their neighborhood (from the House amendment) -
"...the written argument shall contain the natural person’s complete name, street address or post office box address and written or electronic signature. If the written arguments are filed by a person on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity or association, the written arguments must be accompanied by a copy of the entities organizing document, a designation of the office or position that the person holds within the organization and a copy of the written appointment of the person to speak on behalf of the organization."
Current law contains no such provisions, and in the case of many neighborhood organizations, the required documents may not now be available, if they ever even existed.

It's sort of like the birthers' insistence on the presentation of a mythical "long form" birth certificate to prove eligibility for office.

Other facets of this that are designed to inhibit neighborhood input and opposition efforts:

- The requirements for arguments against a particular liquor license don't apply to those submitting arguments in support of that license

- Under the provisions of the bill, people couldn't argue against a permit application based on the applicant, only the location.  The late Jeffrey Dahmer could apply for a liquor license and neighbors could only speak about the place, not the cannibal

- If the ownership of a facility holding a non-transferable license changes and it becomes necessary for there to be a hearing on the issuance of a new license for a new owner, there will be a presumption that the license is needed and appropriate.  The burden of proof will then be on the neighborhood to prove otherwise if they have problems with the license location

All of the above provisions from Reagan/the liquor industry seem to be designed to promote profitability at the expense of community input.

However, these aren't the only provisions that sacrifice good governance in favor of industry whims.

One provision allows the expansion of previously existing licensed businesses that are within 300 feet of schools, churches, and recreational areas adjacent to schools.  Others remove the ability of cities and towns to manage local zoning or to collect administrative fees relating to liquor license applications, even when the municipality incurs costs relating to liquor licenses.

I know that Sen. Reagan is the chair of the Senate's Economic Development and Jobs Creation, but it seems that the only "economy" she is trying to develop is the economy of an "industry" that does nothing to enhance society (and I say this as someone who has been known to imbibe occasionally).

SB1460 is scheduled for Third Read (final passage) in the House on Tuesday.  If it passes, and I presume that it will, it will then need to go back to the Senate for approval of the changes made by the House.  It should then reach the Senate floor on Thursday or early next week.

1 comment:

Phoenix Justice said...

Doesn't the provision violate the "free association" clause of the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution? I am also quite sure that since it does not apply equally to proponents of a liquor license that it violates the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment.

Then again, when have the Republicans of this state adhere to the tenets of the Constitution? They seem to keep trying to destroy it with each piece of legislation.