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News BYTES: A brief dip into Paradise Valley interests at the Arizona capitol

A picturesque view of the Arizona capitol buildings in downtown Phoenix. (File photos/

HighGround provides expertise on shifting politics at the capitol

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

On the 95th day of the regular session of the 56th Legislature of the Arizona capitol, Paradise Valley Town Council received a detailed update on the shifting state of affairs from the chief operating officer at HighGround Public Affairs Consulting.

The day was Thursday, April 13, and the place was Paradise Valley Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, which is about a 15-minute jaunt from the Arizona capitol, 1700 W. Washington St.

Presented by Doug Cole that afternoon — COO at the state’s oldest public affairs firm — the expert political consultant provided an account of bills passed, failed, vetoed and still part of the legislative machine at the capitol.

“This past session has been crazy and it is kind of similar to what it was a few sessions ago,” said Paradise Valley Town Manager Jill Keimach at the onset of the update delivery. “We survive it because of Doug Cole and the folks at HighGound and that is why he is here today. I have been very impressed with the service we get from HighGround. It is Nick Ponder, Mr. Cole and others.”

Of Note: Paradise Valley Town Council approved an annual contract extension with HighGround Public Affairs Consultants later that evening at a cost of a flat fee of $6,500 a month with a caveat not to exceed $78,000 for the contract period, records show.

Mr. Cole offered the local governing board an overview of general information regarding the dramatic shift in political temperament at the legislature as of April 13, to be exact. “The record is 58 and she is already at 48,” Mr. Cole said noting the latest headlines out of the capitol whereas Gov. Katie Hobbs has already vetoed 48 bills during the current legislative session.

“Today is the 95th day of the current legislative session and 1,632 bills as of April 13 … Of those 147 Gov. Hobbs has vetoed 48 of them and has only signed 53.”

Photo of Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner
FILE PHOTO: Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner at the local dais at Paradise Valley Town Hall where the important matters of the day are discussed. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/
A brief dip into Paradise Valley interests at the Arizona capitol

Mr. Cole provided specific information on critical pieces of legislation of interest to the Town of Paradise Valley. Those items, taken directly from the legislative update included:

  • SB1184: municipal tax exemption; residential leases that would have prohibited cities and towns from levying a transaction privilege, use, or other similar tax or fee on the business of renting or leasing residential property. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Steve Kaiser. Governor Hobbs vetoed this bill on Feb. 23.
  • SB1063: food; municipal tax exemption that would have prohibited cities and towns from levying a transaction privilege, sales, or use tax or fee on the sale of food items intended for human consumption or home consumption. The bill would become effective July 1, 2025. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Sonny Borrelli and was vetoed by Governor Hobbs on March 28.
  • SB1162: home-based businesses; restrictions; prohibition would have required a municipality or county to allow a home-based business as a use by right if certain conditions are met. Outlines purposes for which a municipality or a county may establish regulations on a home-based business. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Steve Kaiser and was vetoed by Governor Hobbs on April 4.

A bill of discussion that afternoon was SB 1234, which equates to a complete prohibition of the usage of photo radar in Arizona cities and towns.

“We anticipate that this bill has the votes in the [Arizona] House and will make it to the governor’s desk,” Mr. Cole said of the current political realities but explains the temperament between key bill sponsors and the governor’s office predicts a likely veto of the proposed legislation.

“And, thank you, mayor, for creating a veto letter. We have a very convincing argument … why did it make this far? These bills normally would not pass but the dynamics have changed a bit here and members are saving their hard votes for other things, if that makes any sense.”

For a complete breakdown of the latest legislative update, go HERE.

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