Ignorance of the law is no excuse. At least that’s what I’ve been told. But there are high costs of learning about every law that might possibly impact you these days. You can randomly violate laws without even knowing it, given how intrusive and nonsensical they can be, and how often they change.
Imagine being in business, making decisions worth tens of thousands of dollars, assuming the law is the same today as it was yesterday. Too often these days, that's not a safe assumption. Municipalities and counties are constantly passing ordinances and rules, and making substantive policy changes with mere statements of intent with no notice. Volumes of law are passed without codification or any way for someone to easily find and read them. Decisions made in good faith that were legal last week might be illegal today and mean the loss of thousands of dollars.
Two bills making their way through the legislature attempt to even the playing field for those of us who find it tough to keep up with new laws that municipalities and counties keep imposing on us. SB 1505 applies to rules made and enforced by municipalities. HB 2827 applies to ordinances that include any enforceable act, practice, policy, or standard by counties. Both require more notice about proposed new ordinances and rules, allowing individuals to review them in full.
The bills make it more difficult for cities and counties to bypass the ordinance and rulemaking process by passing “substantive policy statements” which must be indexed, published, and accessible to the public. SB1505 requires municipal rulemaking to be more open to public scrutiny through notice and posting. HB 2827 does the same for county ordinances. These bills provide Arizona citizens with the basic due process procedures of notice, right to comment, and to a response to those comments for the rules and ordinances that are being enforced against taxpayers.
SB 1505 and HB 2827 do much more but their theme is transparency. They are bills that force government to explain its actions instead of forcing taxpayers to justify and explain actions that were once perfectly legal but made illegal with no notice and no practical ability to find out about changes in law. Both bills are slam-dunks for citizens anxious to avoid running afoul of shifting laws and should be slam-dunks for our lawmakers as well.
Arizona State Legislature: SB 1505
Arizona State Legislature: HB 2827