Arizona Governor vetoes increase to small claims jursidiction limit; override seems unlikely

In many states, efforts to increase small claims limits take years of introduction and re-introduction before actual passage. Arizona’s effort (SB 1310) took only one year to be adopted, but has now run smack into a gubernatorial veto.

SB 1310 would have increased the small claims of justice of the peace courts from $2,500 to $10,000. It was amended down to $5,000 on the Senate floor. The bill’s author noted in committee the history of the proposal: a constituent had sued in small claims court and when the defendant company appeared it did so both with an attorney and a counter-claim large enough to force it into the regular justice of the peace court, requiring that the constituent hire an attorney.

Governor Jan Brewer issued her veto on April 4. In her veto letter, Governor Brewer noted the case, but also noted “Arizona Revised Statute 22-504 allows either party to object to a small claims proceeding and transfer the case to justice court to preserve the right to appeal and there is no monetary threshold a party must meet  to transfer the case. This legislation does not solve the stated concern and is contrary to the purpose of the small claims division.”

The bill is now back in the Senate, but it is unclear if there are the votes for an override. The Senate passed the bill 20-10, just barely the 2/3rds (20 out of 30 senators) needed to override. The House passed it 34-22 (4 not voting), less than the 40 (out of 60) needed for an override there.

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