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Arizona Senate Republicans Request Meeting With Hobbs To Discuss “Overreach”

June 27, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature is taking action after the state’s Democrat governor’s attempt to legislate by executive order when it comes to abortion.

On Monday, Senator Jake Hoffman, the Chairman of the Committee on Director Nominations, announced that he was canceling the next hearing “with support of the Republican Majority serving on the committee to determine Hobbs’ future intentions to further act beyond her authority.”

The Committee had been formed in February by Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen, who tasked the members 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.” This committee had been created alongside the governor’s reticence to send many of her nominations to the Senate as required by state law.

The three Republican members of the committee – Hoffman, Sine Kerr, and T.J. Shope – sent a letter to Hobbs on Monday, informing her that she holds “the office of Governor in Arizona, not of monarch.” They wrote that her Friday executive order shows “a blatant disregard for constitutional separation of powers” by attempting “to seize lawmaking duties from the Legislature and law interpretation authority from the United States Supreme Court.”

These Republicans requested a meeting with the Hobbs’ administration “to discuss any additional unlawful overreach (her) office intends to take requiring complicity from Executive Directors,” telling the governor that they have “grave concern that the direction (she) intends to provide to (her) nominees will not allow them to fulfill this obligation (of thoroughly and objectively evaluating nominees for their commitment to execute Arizona laws, rather than create new public policies that conflict with the constitutionally established separation of powers).”

A Senate Republican Caucus spokesperson told AZ Free News that the chamber has received 21 director nominations from Hobbs, with 12 awaiting their confirmation hearings.

Hoffman released the following statement in conjunction with the release, saying, “Katie Hobbs’ reckless abuse of power and willful disregard for the separation of powers established by the Arizona Constitution sets a dangerous precedent that will not be tolerated by the Republican Majority within the Legislature. The Senate Committee on Director Nominations was created to honestly, accurately and thoroughly vet directors appointed by the Governor to critical state agencies so that only highly qualified, non-partisan individuals seeking only to serve the best interests of our citizens within the confines of these roles are confirmed. Their duty is to follow statute as prescribed by the Legislature. We are now forced to redirect our attention, from confirming directors and creating good policy for the people of Arizona, to examining the fallout of Hobbs’ unconstitutional maneuver, as well as the likelihood of future overreaches of her authority.”

Shope also issued a comment on the action from the Committee’s Republicans, stating, “Hobbs undermining our democracy by ordering these state agency Directors to act illegally is a clear violation of the constitutional separation of powers. Instead of working with Republican lawmakers on the issues that matter to our citizens, like crippling inflation, gas prices, housing costs, public safety and water security, Hobbs is gleefully attempting to circumvent the Legislature. We can’t in good faith be an accomplice to her radical and unlawful agenda.”

The third Republican on the Committee, Kerr, wrote, “We have serious concerns this Governor will put her Directors in the difficult position of choosing to follow the law or choosing to follow her unconstitutional directives. The important work of the Committee on Director Nominations cannot continue until we have assurances from the Governor that she will cease her attempts to circumvent the laws of this state and the rulings of the United States Supreme Court.”

Arizona Senate Democrats quickly pushed back on Hoffman’s revelation. Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Lela Alston issued a statement, writing, “Senator Jake Hoffman has once again shown his disregard for government and everyday Arizonans. By failing to schedule the confirmation hearings for the Governor’s nominees, he shows how ineffective and partisan the Republican party in Arizona truly is. I am disgusted by this move of extremism and call on his leadership to rectify his foolish actions.”

Another Senate Democrat leader, Caucus Whip Eva Burch, also weighed in on the Republicans’ action, saying, “Our job as elected officials is to serve the people of Arizona, not to engage in political sport to try to sabotage politicians we disagree with. The move to cancel all nominating committees is a disservice to the people who elected us to get these things done. Leaving our departments with uncertainty and without established leadership is irresponsible. It’s time to do our jobs and work together effectively and responsibly.”

Hobbs’ Friday news dump caught most Republicans by surprise but didn’t limit the outrage and resolve from pro-life officials and advocates over the weekend. Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma told AZ Free News that “the Governor cannot unilaterally divert statutory authority to prosecute criminal cases from Arizona’s 15 county attorneys to the Attorney General.” President Petersen opined that “this is another do-nothing executive order meant to pander to her liberal base and create unnecessary division on polarizing topics.” Center for Arizona Policy President, Cathi Herrod, asserted, “The law does not allow her to strip county attorneys of their clear enforcement authority as granted in various Arizona laws.”

Earlier this year, Republican leaders at the Arizona Legislature celebrated their “successful intervention(s) in cases to defend state laws and fight against federal overreach.” One of those cases was the SB 1457 (or Isaacson) litigation, where “a federal court granted Speaker Toma’s and President Petersen’s motion to intervene to defend a law that prohibits abortions based solely on a child’s genetic abnormality after Arizona Attorney General Mayes stated she would not defend the law.”

Hoffman’s decision to cancel Tuesday’s hearing will likely not be the last of the actions legislative Republicans could take to stand against Hobbs’ executive order.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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