Bill on homeowners associations dies at Legislature in AZ
A bill to impose new regulations on homeowners associations was pronounced dead on Tuesday!
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May 14, 2002
Article Courtesy of The Arizona Daily Star

By Paul Davenport
Associated Press 

PHOENIX A bill to impose new regulations on homeowners associations was pronounced dead on Tuesday. 

At the request of the sponsor, Rep. Roberta Voss, the Senate did not vote on the bill which was sought by some homeowner activists as industry representatives sought to limit its reach. 

Voss, R-Glendale, during an interview said the Senate made unacceptable changes and that she had received new information about potential problems that the legislation could or would cause both consumers and associations. 

"Red flags left and right," she said. 

As amended by the Senate, the bill would create an appeals process for owners to challenge board decisions. Other provisions dealt with open meeting rules, access to records, segregation of association bank accounts, participation in lawsuits and votes needed for changing association rules and ousting officers. 

Voss said provisions could have subjected owners to avalanches of direct mail, hindered the operations of time-share associations catering to out-of-state owners and pre-empted existing appeals process already working satisfactorily for some associations. 

Her decision was criticized as anti-consumer by Sen. Sue Gerard, R-Phoenix. Gerard sponsored a rival bill which died in the House and she had attached many of its provisions to Voss' bill against Voss' wishes. 

Gerard said she was confident that the amended bill would have passed both the Senate and the House with lobbying by Gerard and another backer, Sen. Tom Smith, R-Phoenix. 

Gerard said she held Voss "personally responsible" for the bill's failure and that she hoped Voss would pay for it in voter backlash in her campaign for a Corporation Commission seat this fall. 

"Tom Smith and I are going to make it a mission that every voter ... knows that Roberta Voss does not stand up for consumers in her quest to represent consumers on the Corporation Commission," Gerard said. 

Voss, a three-term legislator, defended her decision. 

"I don't think that my job here and the votes that I make or the decisions that I make are based on what I'm going to run for next, and I don't think it's just about consumer protection in the way she's couched it," Voss said of Gerard. 

"The worst thing in the world from the consumer protection standpoint would be for me to put this out with defects and errors when people are going to have to come back and fix it." 

Voss said she rejected pleas by Smith to just pass the legislation with the understanding that errors can be fixed next year. 

"That doesn't do it for me," she said. "(The) consequences are too great. I just don't think it's the right governmental policy to pass something for the sake of passing something." 

Senate President Randall Gnant, R-Scottsdale, said he honored Voss' request to not have the Senate vote on an amended version of her bill. 

"It's a courtesy that I extend to the sponsor (of a bill) so that the sponsor does not have a bill under their name that they no longer like," Gnant said. "We've had so many cases of bills being hijacked." 

COMMENT !
By Jan Bergemann
This is just another example of the far reaching influence of the industry! When Representative Roberta Voss realized that the Senate amended the bill originally sponsored by her and added some homeowner friendly amendments, she quickly withdrew the bill seemingly on advice of her industry sponsors. In the press conference, quickly thrown together to find some public excuses, she showed exactly where she is coming from - the industry - namely CAI (Community Association Institute).

The excuses for withdrawing the bill are so obvious anti-consumer that even somebody who is not very familiar with this issue knows immediately from reading.

All the excuses mentioned were opposed by the industry, not the homeowners. Sure, the newly amended bill had "defects and errors", like most other bills, but many homeowner advocates could have possibly lived with it, considering the fact that there is always the chance to work on the problems in the next session. In this case it was clearly the industry who couldn't live with it! And Roberta Voss followed the call when the CAI executives whistled.

As Senator Sue Gerard already stated, Roberta Voss is running in the next election for a Corporation Commission seat. Even if her campaign coffers will be definitely filled to the brink with industry donations, hopefully the AZ consumers will let her know what it means to vote industry friendly against the consumers wishes. 

Her statement: "I don't think that my job here and the votes that I make or the decisions that I make are based on what I'm going to run for next" is just another admission of guilt towards the consumers. Especially her voting record should be her qualification for another job. Hopefully the voters' memory is not too short, so she will receive her reward at the November election : no votes from consumers!

This is a good way to let legislators know : they are still voted in by the constituents and not the money of the special interest groups. Elections are the only way for us, the people, to show our displeasure to the legislators.