By Daniel Stefanski |
Amid a growing issue of homelessness around Arizona – especially in the Phoenix-Metro region – Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs rejected a Republican proposal to help address the problem.
On Monday, Governor Hobbs vetoed SB 1413, sponsored by Senator Justine Wadsack, would have required “a county, city or town, upon notice of the existence of a homeless encampment, to notify the owner to remove the structure from the location;” and would have stated “that persons who violate this prohibition are guilty of criminal trespassing or drug offenses as prescribed.”
In a letter to Senate President Warren Petersen, which explained her justification for the veto, Hobbs wrote: “People become and remain unsheltered for a variety of reasons. This legislation addresses none of those root causes, offers no pathways to assistance, and effectively criminalizes experiencing homelessness.”
Hobbs invited Petersen and his legislative colleagues to join her “in pursuing more productive solutions that respect human and constitutional rights.”
Senator Wadsack responded to the governor’s veto of her bill with a press release that denounced the action from the Ninth Floor of the Arizona Executive Tower, saying: “The City of Phoenix and the City of Tucson are two prime examples of local governments long ignoring a public safety issue that is now spiraling out of control. Murders, drug abuse, sexual assaults, human feces, fires, hypodermic needles and piles of trash are just some of the issues plaguing homeless encampments and spilling into areas where families, children and small businesses inhabit. This bill was to serve as a tool for municipalities to use in an effort to get these individuals off the streets and into services connecting them to shelter, sanitation facilities, health care and meals. Various outreach groups, like Gospel Rescue Mission, have availability right now to serve these individuals and get them back on their feet.”
The bill’s sponsor went on to warn readers about the consequences of the first-year governor’s veto, adding, “If Governor Hobbs’ goal is to turn Arizona into California, her veto of this bill will surely contribute to our state’s demise. In no time, our cities will resemble that of San Francisco, with major corporations withdrawing operations and lawlessness filling our streets. This is unacceptable governance from Hobbs and only advances chaos, not sanity, within our state.”
In March, the piece of legislation passed the state senate with a 16-12 vote (two members not voting). After being transmitted to the House of Representatives, SB 1412 cleared that chamber in May, in a 31-27 vote (with one member not voting and one seat vacant).
Progress Arizona posted its thanks to Governor Hobbs for her veto, tweeting, “Sen Justine Wadsack, an extremist lawmaker from Pima County, spends her time at the #AZLEG bullying unhoused residents, attacking LGBTQ+ people, spreading conspiracy theories & pushing hateful legislation. SB 1413, like many of her horrible proposed bills, would’ve penalized unhoused residents living in encampments with criminal trespassing.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.