By Daniel Stefanski |
Arizona hasn’t had to deal with a divided government for quite some time with the Governor’s Office and both chambers of the Legislature being controlled by Republicans for over a decade. At the beginning of 2023, however, a unified government morphed into a divided government, and tensions between the two branches of are beginning to ratchet up as the 56th Legislature enters its second month of the year.
This week, Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen announced the formation of a new Senate Committee on Director Nominations, which is “tasked with gathering information and evaluating qualifications on the governor’s executive appointments in order to recommend a course of action for the Senate to take on each individual.” President Petersen appointed five Senators to serve on this committee – three Republicans and two Democrats. Senator Jake Hoffman will serve as the chair, and Senator Sine Kerr as the vice-chair. Senators T.J. Shope, Christine Marsh, and Eva Burch complete the appointments to the committee.
The creation of this committee follows Petersen’s statement on January 23, threatening to take action against Governor Hobbs if her office did not send director nominations to the Arizona Senate, according to state law. Petersen tweeted, “The law says the governor will promptly send her nominations to the Senate. We have not received one director nomination that she has announced. It would be unfortunate if we have to sue the governor to comply with the law.” When another Twitter user called out the East Valley lawmaker on why he decided to use this public platform to issue his challenge, Petersen revealed that he “called her office five days ago.”
According to the Senate Republican release announcing the Committee on Director Nominations, Governor Hobbs “has failed to submit the required documentation to the Senate on 23 out of 25 individuals who have so far been appointed (as directors).”
Not surprisingly, the new committee has been met with praise on the Republican side and condemnation on the Democrat side. Committee Chairman Hoffman said, “Hobbs’ apparent refusal to follow the law…is unacceptable and demonstrates her willingness to play political games with the lives and safety of Arizona citizens.” Committee Vice Chair (and Senate Majority Whip) Kerr stated, “…we don’t know yet if these individuals are even qualified to hold these positions.” Committee Member and Senate President Pro Tempore Shope called out the governor for her repeated claims of bipartisan and transparent leadership, saying, “for a governor who has made numerous comments on wanting bipartisanship at the Capitol, the way to achieve that goal is not ignore statutory duties or intentionally delay statutory checks and balances.” The Arizona Freedom Caucus tweeted, “The Senate must take its constitutional duty to act as a check & balance on Katie Hobbs’ executive branch seriously.”
On the Democrat side, Senator Marsh, in voting no on the creation of this committee on the Senate floor, said that she wished that legislators would “instead be focusing on the truly time-sensitive issue that we have in front of us, which is passing the AEL (Aggregate Expenditure Limit).” Senator Priya Sundareshan tweeted that the new committee was “another power grab on the Senate floor.” And the Arizona Senate Democrats stated that “the Arizona Senate Republicans continue to take cheap shots at Governor Hobbs and the people of Arizona.”
Now, with the committee established, the Arizona Senate awaits the lawful transmission of the documentation for the directors who have already been appointed to the Hobbs’ administration.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.