West Valley Women Gov. Brewer & I Get Tax Reform Done!

West Valley Women Gov. Brewer & I Get Tax Reform Done!

I am absolutely elated that my tax reform legislation passed out of the legislature with bipartisan support and only one no vote!

This historic legislation, spearheaded by the Governor’s Office, is supported by virtually every business and employer group in Arizona, both small and large.

The legislation will streamline and simplify Arizona’s sales tax system in a way that has been tried unsuccessfully for decades.  This time we finally got it done.

Arizona has the most complicated sales tax system in the entire nation.  This legislation will fix that problem and should save you taxes as well.

Under the current system, businesses that operate in more than one city, such as your A/C contractor or Circle K, have to remit multiple tax forms and checks to each city and the state every month.  Under the new legislation, the business will remit their sales taxes for the state and all the cities to just one location, either online or via one simple form, to the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Under the current system, businesses are subjected to multiple audits by the state and multiple cities.  Under the new legislation, a business will be subjected to only one single audit.

Under the current system, a service contractor, like your plumber, has to pay sales tax on 65% of the contract price which includes both labor and materials. The contractor then passes that tax onto you.  Under the new legislation, the service contractor will pay sales tax on the materials only and you, the consumer won’t be charged a separate tax amount at all. No longer will the service contractor have to submit tax forms to every city and no longer will that contractor have to purchase tax licenses from every city.

The legislation goes into effect January 1, 2015.  Between now and then I will continue to work with all those involved to make sure that this is done right.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me anytime at DLesko@azleg.gov or 602-926-5413.

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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Tax Reform Legislation:

Tax Reform Legislation:

This year I have sponsored two very important pieces of tax reform legislation.  Both will save taxpayers money.

1.  HB2347, signed into law by the governor, will save taxpayers money and increase transparency.  HB2347 prohibits the Arizona board of supervisors, any governing body, or board of a county, city, town, school district or other municipal corporation from levying a property tax in excess of the net amount necessary to make the annual payment for principal and interest of bonds and refunding of bonds.   Prior to this legislation, some jurisdictions were charging more taxes than  needed to pay off bonds.

2.  HB2111, spearheaded by Governor Brewer and sponsored by me,  will dramatically improve our sales tax system, save time and money for Arizona businesses and employers, and lower consumers’ taxes.   Arizona has one of the most complicated sales tax systems in the entire country.  This legislation will put Arizona in line with what 46 other states already do.

Arizonans are currently paying sales tax on contracting services that people in 46 other states don’t pay.  Under current Arizona law, a contractor who maintains, repairs, or replaces your air conditioning, plumbing,  or pool has to pay sales tax on 65% of the total contract price.  Even if the material only makes up 30% of the contract price, 65% is taxed.   In almost every case, the contractor collects that tax from you.   Each month the contractor has to go through the painstaking process of submitting multiple tax forms and payments to the state and each and every city that contractor does work in.  Conversely, in 46 other states the contractor doesn’t fill out any tax forms and instead, just pays sales tax on the materials.  HB2111 will align Arizona with these 46 other states.  No longer will service contractors have to fill out tax forms and no longer will you be charged tax on 65% of the contract price.

In addition, HB2111 allows Arizona businesses and employers to submit their tax online to one location and limits businesses’ exposure to one single audit in a 4-year period instead of current law where the state and multiple cities can audit a business during the same time period.

HB2111 has passed through all the legislative committees and I am confident it will pass out of the legislature and be signed by the governor into law.

I want to hear from you.  Contact me at 602-926-5413 or DLesko@azleg.gov

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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Photo Radar Legislation:

Photo Radar Legislation:

My photo radar legislation, HB2477, passed out of the Arizona House of Representatives and will soon be voted on by the Senate.  It is commonsense, middle of the road legislation that will require cities to demonstrate to the Arizona Department of Transportation that there is a public safety reason for placing a photo radar camera on a state highway and that public safety has improved as a result of the camera.  Even though Governor Brewer did not renew the photo radar camera contract on state highways, cities are still allowed to place the cameras on state highways under current law.  The legislation only affects state highways and does not totally eliminate the cameras as some would like, but it does prevent cities from placing cameras on state highways for revenue-only purposes.

The legislation, I sponsored and the Governor supports, that simplifies our complicated sales tax system and helps businesses and employers across the state, passed out of another Senate committee this week.  A large coalition of employers across the state support this legislation because they realize Arizona has the most complicated sales tax and audit system in the entire nation.  The legislation will NOT increase sales tax rates, but will simplify how businesses have to pay and remit their taxes and will reduce a businesses’ audit exposure to one single audit instead of the multiple audits by multiple jurisdictions that they are subjected to now.

May you and your family have a Blessed Easter.

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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Tax Reform:

Tax Reform:

My legislation, that significantly simplifies the sales tax reporting system for Arizona businesses and employers, passed out of the House Ways and Means committee with unanimous support.

Press Conference

Arizona has the most complicated sales tax system in the entire nation.  Currently businesses are required to fill out multiple tax forms, make payments to multiple jurisdictions, and be subjected to multiple audits from multiple cities and the state.  My legislation will put Arizona in line with what 46 states already do and will free up valuable business time and money so businesses can concentrate on their work instead of filling out mountains of tax paperwork every month.

Last year Governor Brewer formed a sales tax simplification tax force to study ways to simplify
Arizona’s sales tax system.  The Task Force met 17 times over six months in 2012.  Tax experts from the state, cities, and Arizona’s small and large employers worked together to develop the recommendations that are now included in my legislation.

My legislation, HB2657, does three things:

1.  It allows businesses to submit their city and state sales taxes in one on-line location instead of the multiple locations required under current law.

2.  It limits business exposure to one single audit. Current law subjects businesses to multiple audits done by multiple cities and the state.

3.  It replaces the current complicated prime-contracting tax system with one where the contractor simply pays sales tax on the materials at the point of sale.  No longer will contractors have to fill out tax forms for every different city every month.  This will save employers time and will also reduce the tax burden on the consumer.

The Governor and I continue to work with the cities to address some of their concerns.  Cities are used to the status quo where cities collect their own taxes and do their own audits.   Many cities are reluctant to relinquish their current authority.

My legislation is supported by the Governor and a huge and diverse coalition of Arizona businesses and employers.  I am extremely pleased that my legislation has both Republican and Democrat support and passed out of the Ways and Means committee unanimously.

I am confident that my legislation will help Arizona’s economy by helping Arizona’s employers free up time and money to hire more workers.

I will do everything in my power to pass this legislation into law.  It is the right thing to do.

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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Upcoming Legislation:

Upcoming Legislation:

This year I am once again sponsoring legislation that will help solve problems brought to my attention by people that live in our own legislative district.

Most people thought that when the Governor didn’t renew the state’s photo radar contract for state highways, that photo radar cameras would no longer exist on state highways.  However, cities can still place photo radar cameras on state highways.   House Bill 2477 will require cities to prove to the AZ Dept. of Transportation that there is a public safety reason for placing photo radar cameras on state highways. It will also require cities to demonstrate that public safety improved as a result of the photo radar camera when the city applies for a permit renewal.  This issue was brought to my attention by people in our district, including a city council member, that had concerns about the photo radar camera on Grand Ave. in El Mirage.

House Bill 2348 will expand the number of qualified foster homes available.  There are 14,400 children in our state waiting for foster homes.  It is a crisis situation.  Thankfully, I met a family in Surprise that shared with me a simple solution to increase foster care homes.   My legislation has bipartisan support and I’m hopeful that it will make it into law.

This year, I will also be sponsoring major tax simplification legislation that was promoted by Governor Brewer in her State of the State address.  Our sales tax system is the most complicated system in the United States and places huge and costly administrative burdens on our small and large businesses.  Instead of forcing businesses to spend money hiring accountants and spending hours and hours filling out mountains of bureaucratic paperwork every month, my legislation will simplify the entire system allowing these businesses to free up their money to hire more workers.

Please let me know what you think of my legislation. Contact me at 602-926-5413 or
DLesko@azleg.gov

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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Thank you for your support

Thank you for your support

I am honored to be re-elected as your State Representative. Thank you for your support.

This term I will serve as the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.  This is a position that I requested and I am pleased that I have been given the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

The House Ways and Means Committee votes on state tax policy.  I have a record of opposing tax increases.  Because I believe individuals can save and spend their own money better than the government, I believe it is better for individuals and businesses to keep more money in their own pockets.

This session, I once again plan on sponsoring legislation that addresses problems and concerns brought to my attention by my constituents.  One of these problems involves foster care.  As many of you know, Child Protective Services (CPS) has indicated that there is a shortage of foster homes in Arizona. A couple months ago, I was knocking on doors introducing myself to constituents in a new area of our legislative district.   I think it is more than a coincidence that I met a family that has been trying to provide a foster home to children in need, but has run up against hurdle after hurdle from government agencies for months.  After meeting with the Senate Health Committee Chairman and government officials from the Department of Economic Security, I believe it may be necessary to enact legislation that will clarify existing law and unite more children in need with qualified foster parents.  If we can accomplish this, I know we will make a difference in these children’s lives.

In another example of legislation, I joined Governor Brewer, the City of Peoria, and the Romero family on December 12th for a bill signing ceremony.  I was once again touched by this local Peoria family who lost their son, Joey Romero, in a hit and run accident.  I was thankful to take part in moving this legislation through the legislature to place stricter restrictions on hit and run drivers.

I ran for office to make a difference.  With your help, we can continue to do so.

May you and your family have a Blessed Christmas and New Year!

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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Helping Constituents

Helping Constituents

As a legislator, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping people. I do so either through legislation I write and support, or by directly helping them with problems they encounter.
This year I sponsored legislation that helped move Arizona to #1 in the nation for new business startups.
I also sponsored legislation that increases educational opportunities for special needs children, adopted foster children, active military children, and students in failing schools.  When parents gave testimony about how my legislation was helping their children, it made me feel like I was really making a difference.
This year, I also helped a local school in Peoria whose employees were trying to collect unemployment insurance during the summer break.  My legislation closed a loophole in state statute and saved the school money in claims and attorney fees.
People call me on a regular basis both at work and home about problems they are having with state agencies.  It is satisfying when my staff and I are able to help.
Recently a man called my home explaining about a problem he was having with the Motor Vehicle Department.  Legislative staff was able to help him.  A single mother called me and I was able to help her find health insurance for her two-year-old son.  Although I cannot help everybody, I am thankful that legislative staff and I are often in a position where we can help.
In addition to working on legislation and helping constituents, it is important that I continue to stay informed about issues important to our district and state.  Recently, I met with a group of hospital CEOs, met with the director of the AZ Commerce Authority to discuss how they plan to bring jobs into Arizona, participated in the NW Valley Community Transportation Stakeholder meeting where we discussed transportation needs in the NW valley,   toured the West-MEC aviation mechanics training facility, toured ITT Technical Institute, gave a welcoming speech at the International Hearing Society annual meeting to people from all over the world, met with the Department of Transportation to discuss constituent concerns, visited seniors at the Olive Branch Senior Center on the Sept. 11th anniversary, met with city officials and staff about a proposed sand and gravel operation,  met with the Surprise Chamber of Commerce to discuss local business concerns, attended the El Mirage fire station grand opening, attended a debate on forming a state health exchange, toured Express Scripts a pharmaceutical dispensing facility, and attended a meeting of the AZ Society of Practicing Accountants to learn about small business needs.
If you have ideas for legislation, have a problem with a state agency, or want me to meet with your group, please contact me at 602.926.5413. I can’t promise that I can help everybody, but I will most certainly continue to do what I can.

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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2012 Legislative Review

2012 Legislative Review

I’m happy to report that:

  • Arizona has moved from #32 to #5 in the nation for job growth (source: ASU W.P. Carey School of Business)
  • Moved from #13 to #1 in the nation for new business start-ups (Kauffman Index)
  • Moved from #8 to #4 in business competitiveness in the Mountain West states (Greater Phoenix Economic Council)
  • and the state budget is projected to be $257 million better off than expected for fiscal year 2012.

The actions taken by the Republican-led legislature and Governor Brewer are clearly paying off.

We have taken this state from shortfalls as high as $3 billion in the last 3 ½ years to this year being able to balance our budget, add funding to education, healthcare, and public safety and still put money aside for a rainy day.

Part of our success can be attributed to two “Jobs Bills” the legislature passed in the last two years and legislation that cuts down on burdensome regulations and frivolous lawsuits.

Contrary to what some believe, the legislature is doing a lot of positive things for our state.  And although I am disappointed that no Democratic legislators voted for the “Jobs Bills” and they fought us on our legislation to balance the budget, you may be pleased to know that 90% of the  legislation that became law this year had both Republican and Democrat support.

Some of the legislation I sponsored this year includes:

  • HB2621 increases government transparency so taxpayers can see how government is spending their money. (The photo shows Governor Brewer signing this legislation)
  • HB2622 improves educational opportunities for special needs children, students in failing schools, adopted foster children, and children of active duty military families.  It has been recognized as model legislation across the country.
  • HB2628 helped a school in Peoria and similar schools whose teachers and staff were trying to claim unemployment insurance during the summer vacation.
  • HCR2061 became part of the Military’s official record to show that the Arizona Legislature wanted the F-35 fighter mission at Luke Air Force Base.
  • HB2625 protects our 1st amendment right that guarantees freedom of religion and allows religious-affiliated employers to opt out of the intrusive government mandate that forces them to pay for and provide abortion-inducing drugs, birth control, and sterilization drugs, even if it violates their religious belief.  Currently, the Obama Administration is only allowing churches to opt out of his mandate.  My legislation will allow religious charities, like St. Vincent De Paul, and faith-based schools and hospitals to opt out too.  Many say they want government out of this issue…that is exactly what my legislation does.  It allows religious employers to opt out of the government mandate.
  • HB2629 repeals the individual use tax, a little known tax on online purchases that individuals are supposed to self report to the state.  Hardly anyone knows about it, the amount collected is relatively small, and it is nearly impossible to enforce. (Although this legislation had unanimous support in the House of Representatives, it was stopped in the Senate, and thus didn’t become law…maybe I’ll try again next year)

In the next newsletter, I’ll update you on the businesses I’ve been visiting, the testimony I’ve given in front of the EPA to oppose utility rate increases, the constituents I’ve been meeting with, and the meetings I’ve been attending on your behalf.

Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Debbie Lesko

Arizona State Representative
Legislative District 21

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The Obama Administration vs. Arizona (July, 2012 Update):

The Obama Administration vs. Arizona (July, 2012 Update):

We just celebrated our Country’s anniversary of the Declaration of Independence from England. Our founding fathers knew how oppressive a federal government could be and drafted the U.S. Constitution with that in mind.  Now, less than 250 years later, our very own federal government is taking away our individual freedoms, using agencies to bypass Congress, and fights Arizona and other states at every turn.

1.  On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the part of Arizona’s SB (Senate Bill) 1070, legislation I co-sponsored, that requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of people they suspect to be in the country illegally if the officers are already stopping that person for a different violation.

What did the Obama Administration do in response?: On that same day, the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama’s direction, terminated the 287(g) agreements with all Arizona law enforcement agencies and directed its ICE agents in Arizona not to deport illegal immigrants unless they were convicted of other crimes.

2.  In 2004, Arizona Voters overwhelming passed a voter initiative that requires proof of citizenship when registering to vote and ID when voting at the polls. I helped collect signatures for that ballot measure and the law is working well.
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What is the Obama Administration doing? : It joined a lawsuit against our state to over-turn the proof of citizenship requirement.  (The Obama administration has sued to overturn Texas and other states voter ID laws as well)

3.  Congress, who is elected by the voters, decided not to pass the Dream Act, even when there was a Democrat majority.

What did President Obama do?   He by-passed Congress and the separation of powers balance put in place by the U.S. Constitution and proclaimed that he would give about 800,000 illegal immigrants legal status.

4.  On several occasions I have stood before the Corporation Commission on behalf of my constituents to argue against proposed utility rate increases that were exorbitant and unfair. In those cases, the citizens and I have been successful.

What is the Obama administration doing?  The EPA, under the Obama administration, wants to mandate very expensive, unnecessary environmental upgrades to utility plants that will substantially increase utility rates in Arizona. I’m guessing the President is doing this to satisfy environmental groups that will support him in his re-election bid.  The new EPA mandates will cost $110 million extra at one power plant alone and threaten to shut down the Navajo Generating Plant, the main source of electricity for delivering water into our valley.  Not only will our electric rates increase, but our water rates will soar.  If implemented, hundreds of jobs that support Arizonans, many from the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, will be lost.

5.  After finding out that people were selling their food stamp cards online and on the streets for $.33 on the dollar, I sponsored legislation that would require ID to be shown when using a food stamp card.

What was the Obama administration’s stance?:  They said my legislation would violate their rule that food stamp customers have to be treated exactly the same as cash customers. Never mind that check customers have to show ID.

I will continue to fight for your rights and freedoms, but until we get a new direction at the federal government level, it will be an uphill battle.  As always, feel free to contact me at 602.926.5413 or DLesko@azleg.gov

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PROTECTING OUR 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHTS:

PROTECTING OUR 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHTS:

My legislation that protects Arizona citizens 1st amendment rights has passed out of the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committee.  Unfortunately, the ACLU and its cohorts are spreading around all kinds of misinformation and some in the media are repeating it.

 
HB2625 allows employers to opt out of a current government mandate that forces them to cover abortion-inducing drugs and other items related to contraception in their insurance benefits….even if they must violate their religious beliefs to do so.  The employer can opt out, IF and only IF, they have a religious objection.  I doubt many employers will do this.  But I imagine that some faith-based charity organizations, like St. Vincent De Paul, or some mom and pop employers might because providing them is against their religious beliefs.

 
HB2625 does NOT authorize employers to ask or know about employees contraceptive use.

 
HB2625 does NOT authorize employers to fire employees for using contraceptives.

 
HB2625 DOES allow employees who work at the few employers that will actually opt out, to purchase contraceptives outside of their insurance plan.   Walmart sells generic contraceptives for $9/month, which is probably cheaper than most insurance co-pays to begin with.

 

Ironically, most of the controversy surrounding my legislation focuses on language already in Arizona law, that was not even introduced by me.  It allows women who work for a religious employer to still get the prescriptions paid for through insurance if they are used for a purpose other than contraception.  In those cases, the insurance company, NOT the employer would know this information.  The ironic thing, is that language has been in Arizona law for 10 years and was not introduced by me.  In fact, whether my legislation passes or not, that will still be Arizona law.

 

My legislation is supported by the Catholic church and other faith-based organizations.  It was written with the help of a national legal organization that fights for religious freedoms…The Alliance Defense Fund.

 
Government should not be mandating people to do something against their religious beliefs. That violates their 1st Amendment rights and is Un-American.  We must protect our 1st amendment right to freedom of religion.  The future of America is at stake.

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