Hobbs Sparks Bipartisan Outrage With Veto Of Housing Bill

March 19, 2024

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bipartisan housing bill from the Arizona State Legislature has met its demise.

On Monday, Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed HB 2570, which would have “create[ed] municipal prohibitions relating to home designs and single-family home lot sizes” – according to the overview provided by the state House.

In a letter explaining her veto to House Speaker Ben Toma, Hobbs said, “I was elected on a promise to bring thoughtful leadership to the Governor’s Office and always do the right thing for the people of this state, even when it’s hard. Unfortunately, this expansive bill is a step too far and I know we can strike a better balance. This is unprecedented legislation that would put Arizonans at the center of a housing reform experiment with unclear outcomes. It lacks the nuance necessary for statewide reform, and I do not believe it is in the best interest of the people in this state.”

Senate President Warren Petersen blasted the governor’s decision on the bill, writing, “Our kids can’t afford a home. Today, the Governor sided with bureaucrats, instead of our kids. Thanks to her, affordable starter homes remain illegal in Arizona. But it’s not just our kids. Every day, we hear from active-duty military, veterans, young families, young professionals, firefighters, teachers, police officers, service workers, and seniors on fixed incomes that they are either facing the grim reality of becoming homeless or are being prevented from participating in the American dream of homeownership because of outrageous prices, partly due to reckless big government regulations imposed by cities and towns.”

The Senate Republican Caucus’ press release highlighted that Hobbs became the “first Governor in the nation to block a bill removing zoning restrictions to bring housing prices down for hardworking citizens.” The release asserted that “the status quo currently limits options, which can tack on tens of thousands of dollars to the sale price of a home.”

Hobbs pointed to push back from the Department of Defense and Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona over the bill, which she claimed to take under advisement in the lead-up to her veto. She added, “The bill has unexplored, unintended consequences that are of great concern. For instance, the Department of Defense contacted my office while this bill was on my desk to state their opposition. They expressed very serious concerns that the increased density near military installations would put military operations and homeowners at risk, putting dense development within Accident Potential Zones. Firefighters shared significant public safety concerns highlighting that increased density without corresponding improvements to roads and public infrastructure could lead to traffic congestion during evacuations or delays in emergency response times. These are the examples that demonstrate the potential risks that come with the kind of sweeping reforms in this proposal.”

Petersen countered these concerns from Hobbs as part of his statement in response to the veto. He said, “The Governor has a track record of pushing red herrings to justify her vetoes against commonsense legislation, and her statement today is no different. No, this bill does not harm military operations, nor create safety issues for cities. Instead of listening to the citizens, she’s listening to the people who created the problem. This legislation had strong bipartisan support, and this veto will certainly go down as one of her biggest failures.”

Other legislative Democrats expressed their disappointment over the veto. Representative Analise Ortiz stated, “I am deeply saddened and disappointed in the Governor’s decision to veto the Arizona Starter Homes Act. HB 2570 was a historic bipartisan solution to our state’s housing crisis and it would have created a pathway to the American dream of homeownership. While other states are proactively addressing housing in an urgent, deliberate manner, AZ continues to kick the can down the road. Status quo is clearly not working and believing that things will change without policies like the Starter Homes Act is, at best, wishful thinking. I hope Governor Hobbs will support future plans to expand the state’s inventory of modest, starter homes and homes on small lots – homes that our parents & grandparents purchased years ago that allowed them to build wealth, lay roots in communities, and break cycles of poverty.”

Democrat State Senator Anna Hernandez also weighed in about the governor’s veto. She said, “I hope the Governor takes this moment to reaffirm her commitment to solving the housing crisis rather than stand as another obstacle in the way of solutions. My hope is that Governor Hobbs and her staff, learn from their mistake today, and ensure that decisions on policy are made for the betterment of all Arizonans. We must prioritize the people over the politics. The work we have begun will continue – I promise.”

HB 2570 is likely completely dead for the legislative session, with no hope for a veto override, as only 33 State Representatives and 16 State Senators supported its passage in their chambers.

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

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