KPHO, Channel 5 (CBS)
Friday, March 31, 2017
(Bob Thomas reporting)
A crowd of out of state seniors, estimated to be more than ten thousand, converged on the Arizona State Capitol Friday morning, in protest of Arizona Statute SB952, commonly referred to as the "Snow Bird Initiative".
Last month the Arizona Senate, in an effort to enhance tax revenue, proposed SB952, a bill targeted at collecting an estimated $2 billion in various taxes from the more than 2 million out of state residents who make Arizona their winter home.
Upon passage the bill was forwarded to the governor's office for signing. Proponents of the bill argue that the millions of winter visitors place an unnecessary burden on in state residents as snow birds, who come here to live from October through April are not paying their fair share of the revenue necessary to fund infrastructure and social services. SB952 is intended to rectify that by placing certain restrictions on out of state residents and significantly raising the tax profile of winter visitors.
Previously, as long as an out of state resident remained for less than eight months they were not required to secure Arizona auto and driver's licenses, nor were they required to pay a pro-rated portion of state income taxes. SB952 changes the terms of the previous law. Under the new bill out of state residents will be considered at least "part year" residents if they remain in the state more than three months. For any period longer than three months our mid-west neighbors will be subject to resident licensing laws and will be required to file Arizona state taxes, prorated for the period they resided in state.
SB952 also stipulates that any home that has wheels will be subject to state property taxes, again prorated for the period of in-state residence.
A more controversial feature of SB952 has even some proponents of the bill shaking their heads, the bill calling for restaurants to cease and desist serving dinner at 3PM since our elderly snowbird population, out on the road during the rush our extends the commute for tens of thousands of in state residents. Further, SB952 stipulates that any vehicle displaying an out of state plate must stay in the right hand lane so that their 45MPH vehicle speeds do not impede normal traffic patterns.
The crowds Friday morning were irate as they waited in line to attend a state town hall scheduled to hear public complaint. Assembling just after their IHOP and Denny's breakfasts, the crowd of seniors formed early, well before 7AM.
By 9AM, when the meeting started, this reporter witnessed thousands of seniors turned away at the door, the fire department declaring the hall filled to capacity and additional visitors would have violated fire safety code regulations.
The crowd both inside and outside were highly vocal, elderly men throwing their golfing hats on the ground and stomping on them, elderly ladies throwing their yarn goods at Phoenix police who were there for crowd control. One angry elder even threatened to throw his colostomy bag at any policemen who attempted an arrest.
Fortunately, by 10:30 the crowd began to break up. There were no porta potties handy and they were already a half hour late for the senior lunch special down at Denny's.
(Stay tuned for continuing coverage...Bob Thomas reporting).