Originally published Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 07:30p.m.

Happy Spring, Mohave County.

This legislative season my goal was to move a veterans bill that would enable disabled veterans an exemption on their property taxes. Because the bill we wrote has to do with changing our tax structure, you and I have a say in whether or not it gets enacted into law. The bill that we wrote is a constitutional amendment, thus it would have needed the vote of the people to get passed in 2020.

Rep. Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City, helped us by sponsoring our bills HB 2551 and HCR2023. The bill would ultimately help over 85,000 Arizona veterans save money on their tax bills.

My partner in this objective, besides Rep. Biasiucci, was Yuma Assessor Joe Wehrle. Wehrle had tried numerous times in the past to move this veterans exemption, but to no avail. We thought, with us working together and Rep. Biasiucci’s help, we were bound to finally succeed.

Here’s a brief history of Arizona veterans exemptions: Back in 1990 the state of Arizona had a veterans exemption, but disabled veterans were removed from Arizona’s exemption programs due to the courts declaring the Arizona Constitution provisions to be in conflict with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The courts further stated that the Legislature had the power to restore benefits to veterans by enactment of an amendment. It has not been amended after all these years.

More than 90 percent of the states in the union provide a veterans property benefit. UNFORTUNATELY, Arizona is not one of them.

Due to the fact costs are always an issue with any bill, we wrote the bill to cost little money, less than $2 million for the entire state. This is affordable considering most bills cost over $10 million and get passed.

Rep. Biasiucci, Wehrle, and I communicated and met with veterans around the state to garner support for our bill. The legislature eventually got our bill on the House Ways and Means Committee just to get it booted off days before the committee meeting (we don’t know why). Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, indicated she would help by putting the bill on her Appropriations Committee, but due to the rules of the House our bill needed to get an approval from “leadership” to be allowed onto her committee. “Leadership” would not allow it go forward. It is very disheartening to accept failure of this bill so badly needed in our state.

I have attempted to meet with “leadership,” Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, but he has not yet responded to my request. I am hoping I can still meet with Speaker Bowers to ask WHY this inexpensive, veterans supporting bill keeps getting kicked down the road.

I plan on trying again next year but thought it best to not keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result, thus asking Speaker Bowers why it constantly fails would be my first step to finding a solution for next year’s legislative season.

I am sorry to all the fabulous veterans out there that we did not succeed, yet again.

I am not one to give up a fight though, so look for me next year. Wish us luck.

Our next County Corner is scheduled to be written by Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster.