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Arizona 55th Legislature 2021: HB 2037 and impact on Arizona Geological Survey

Phil Pearthree, Arizona State Geologist and AZGS Director

HB 2037 was introduced by Representative Gail Griffin at the first regular session of the Fifty-Fifth Legislature in 2021. The primary intent of this bill is to clean up inconsistent language in the state statutes that enable the Arizona Geological Survey. In the past week, some stakeholders have reached out to AZGS staff regarding the impact of HB 2037 on the mission, duties, and staff of the AZGS. I want to assure all of our stakeholders that HB 2037 would be beneficial to the smooth functioning of the AZGS.

When the AZGS was moved back into the University of Arizona in 2016, language in one part of our enabling legislation was changed to reflect the new administrative structure. As a separate state agency from 1988-2016, the Director and State Geologist was appointed by the Governor and reported directly to her/ him. When we were reunited with the UA, the AZGS became a non-academic research unit in the College of Science reporting to the Dean of Science, and then through the UA hierarchy governed by the Board of Regents. The problem is that some enabling language was not changed at that time; it still reflects the management structure when we were a separate state agency and is not consistent with our current structure.

HB 2037 recognizes the Arizona Geological Survey as an entity situated in the University of Arizona, with funding provided by annual appropriation from the state general fund that is a line item in the UA budget. The bill adds language that says the State Geologist must be either a registered geologist or a trained geologist with a degree in geology and at least 4 years of experience outside of an educational institution. Finally, HB 2037 repeals the requirement for sunset review of the AZGS.

In total, HB 2037 is very positive for the AZGS as we move forward as an applied research group in the UA. The AZGS uses our state appropriation and external funds to support our mission to stakeholders in government, industry, and the public to provide up-to-date information on the geologic setting, geologic hazards, and natural resources of the state. We pursue a range of federal funding opportunities, seize any opportunities to work with partners in state and local government agencies, and collaborate with other researchers at the UA, the USGS, private entities. We provide all of the results of our research and investigations to the public at no cost and help educate the general public about the importance of geology to our modern society.

For additional information regarding the Arizona Geological Survey and for free access to all our published reports and maps, please visit

Background HB 2037. As part of HB 2037 Section 27-102, Arizona Revised Statutes, as amended by Laws 2016, 3 chapter 371, section 6, is repealed and Section 27-102 (2016), chapter 128 was amended. The one page amendment can be downloaded at