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House gives preliminary OK to helping cities with event costs

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PHOENIX – The Arizona House of Representatives gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would help defray the public safety costs cities incur hosting major events.

Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, the House majority leader, introduced HB 2547 with Glendale getting ready for the 2015 Super Bowl.

The bill would allow the state to reimburse up to $2 million for the cost of personnel or equipment required for public safety. Among its requirements: The event must attract at least 14,000 and be recognized nationally or internationally.

Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, who lobbied for the bill, said the Super Bowl is just as important to the state as it is to Glendale.

“Tourists are going to spend money in the state of Arizona. The state will make more money, no doubt, than what the state currently spends. Tax revenues will be higher,” Weiers said. “The city of Glendale is simply saying help us out with our public safety portion of holding an event to make sure that it’s safe and it’s done properly.”

Weiers said that Glendale can’t afford to take on any more major expenses and is simply asking the state to help foot the estimated $3.5 million the city will spend on public safety.

“I don’t care if we break even; I just don’t want to go in the hole on it when our city is already struggling right now to just simply pay its bills,” he said.

The House Committee of the Whole endorsed the measure Monday, setting up a floor vote that would send it to the Senate.

Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, said she is against the bill because the state shouldn’t be paying for cities to hold major events. That money would take away from other priorities, she added.

“We don’t have lots of extra money floating around here in the state, and so we need to spend our taxpayer money wisely,” she said.

Chris Leone, spokesman for the House Republican majority, said public safety at major events reflects on the entire state.

“We want to make sure anyone who bids and wins one of these national events knows they are going to go into it knowing the security is top-notch,” he said.