Federal Judge Refuses To Block New Arizona Laws On Sober Living Homes

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 7:56am
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Noel Campbell

A federal court has refused to block tighter regulations on sober living homes.

The homes serve as halfway houses for Arizonans recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, including former inmates.

Operators voluntarily followed state guidelines until lawmakers passed regulatory mandates and increased fees in 2018.

Rep. Noel Campbell (R-Prescott) the architect of that original law, said it had the desired effect in reducing the number of homes in his community.

"The bad actors in this industry decided to move on," he said.

But the result was that some moved into other cities, leading to the new law requiring these homes to have to not only be inspected but have a background check on staffers. There also are requirements to test residents for alcohol and drugs and a mandate to maintain a safe environment for the surrounding community.

There's also a requirement for each facility to establish a "good neighbor policy to address neighborhood concerns and complaints.''

There are also licensing fees of $500 plus $100 times the maximum number of residents of the proposed facility.

In filing suit, attorney Ryan Regula argued that the whole purpose of the law was to make it difficult to operate these facilities.

Judge James Teilborg found challengers failed to show the changes violate housing discrimination laws and cause irreparable harm to tenants .

However, he allowed the Arizona Recovery Housing Association a chance to appeal with further developed arguments.

Lawmakers must also show the new laws actually benefit the residents, protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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