PHOENIX, AZ - On Tuesday, the city of Phoenix filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona, alleging that the state legislature improperly added dozens of measures to the recently enacted state budget bill. This, according to the city, is a breach of the state constitution.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, is about the "single-subject rule," which relates to the Arizona Constitution's transparency process that requires bills to mean what they say. Budget bills must be about the budget, and general legislation must be on one issue at a time.
"The city of Phoenix is filing this lawsuit to ensure the State Legislature follows our Arizona Constitution. This year's budget illegally limits cities' ability to serve our communities and undermines the legislative process," said Mayor Kate Gallego.
Rather than having numerous provisions stacked on top of one another, the city says that proposed laws should only be considered and voted on in conjunction with other provisions that are relevant to them.
The Legislature is said to be violating the Constitution's requirements by the city's leader when this year's budget bill, HB2893, was passed.
This so-called "budget reconciliation" bill contains substantive legislative proposals unrelated to expenditures or each other.
The bill in question is designed to deal with budget reconciliation for the "Criminal Justice" section. However, it includes a wide range of issues affecting at least ten distinct state agencies, ranging from an emergency "readiness center" to water-rights disputes.
In addition, Phoenix also mentions its new Office of Accountability and Transparency (OAT), which was established by an ordinance enacted by the city in May.
According to the city, a specific clause in the budget bill has an influence on how the police department and OAT are supervised. The clause nullifies an office formed for the purpose of providing an independent civilian-led review of the Phoenix Police Department.
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