STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Legislation sponsored by State Representative Jacqueline Parker (R-16), HB 2737, would require the Arizona Corporation Commission to follow state law and the Constitution. It was passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Energy & Water on Tuesday.
HB 2737 authorizes the Arizona Attorney General’s office, at the request of the state legislature, to investigate whether certain actions by the Commission have violated state law or substantially exceeded its statutory or constitutional authority. If the Commission is found to have done so, a fine of 10 percent of its annual appropriation will be withheld.
Representative Parker stated the following about HB 2737, “The purpose of this bill is very straightforward, no governmental entity, not even the Corporation Commission is above the law and the Constitution. That’s it. For decades the Commission has called itself a ‘co-equal, 4th branch of government’ while ignoring state law and exceeding the constitutional scope of its authority. It’s time for that to stop so the Commission’s overworked staff can focus on ensuring that utility rates are ‘just and reasonable’ and as low as possible for rate payers.”
The Arizona Supreme Court, in its recent Johnson Utilities decision, acknowledged that prior court decisions surrounding the scope of the Corporation Commission’s authority have been “inconsistent and confusing.” The Court went to great lengths to clarify the parameters of the Commission’s constitutional authority. Based on this clarification, it appears some of the actions taken by the Commission fall outside that authority.
“HB 2737 expands upon an already existing statute and provides an important tool to empower citizens to hold their government accountable. Without this law, the Commission will continue as the most powerful regulatory agency in the country with no accountability and no checks and balances. Anyone who values governmental transparency should welcome this long overdue effort,” added Parker.
Cosponsors of HB 2737 include Representatives Barton (R-6), Biasiucci (R-5), Blackman (R-6), Bolick (R-20), Bowers (R-25), Burges (R-1), Cobb (R-5), Cook (R-8), Dunn (R-13), Fillmore (R-16), Finchem (R-11), Grantham (R-12), Griffin (R-14), Hoffman (R-12), John (R-4), Kaiser (R-15), Kavanagh (R-23), Nguyen (R-1), Nutt (R-14), Payne (R-21), Pingerelli (R-21), Toma (R-22), and Wilmeth (R-15).
Jacqueline Parker is a Republican member of the Arizona House of Representatives serving Legislative District 16, which includes East Mesa, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, and North San Tan Valley. She previously worked as a legal policy advisor at the Corporation Commission for three years.