Ducey Returns To Town, Vetoes 22 Bills Over Budget Stalemate

Ducey Returns To Town, Vetoes 22 Bills Over Budget Stalemate

By B. Hamilton |

In what has being characterized by some lawmakers as a “tantrum,” Governor Doug Ducey announced on Twitter Friday afternoon that he has vetoed 22 bills and that he will not sign any other legislation until a budget is passed. In a series of tweets, Governor Ducey characterized the vetoed bills as containing “good policy,” but that he was unhappy that the legislature failed to pass a budget before temporarily recessing for the Memorial Day weekend.

The decision to veto nearly two dozen bills without warning shocked many at the capitol, especially since the Governor was out of town all week at the Republican Governor’s Association meeting in Tennessee.

“It’s unfortunate the governor had to veto 22 bills today including one very important bill dealing with the prohibition of critical race theory indoctrination in government,” Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham told AZ Free News. “This is a direct result of a select few in both the House and Senate, who refuse to do what’s best for the citizens of Arizona and pass a fiscally sound conservative budget without wasteful spending and pork. It’s time to get to work and stay there until we put special interests aside, reduce burdensome taxes on our citizens, and vote for a responsible Republican budget.”

“The Governor’s decision to veto crucial election integrity legislation, as well as, his veto of a bill that would’ve banned taxpayer money from being used to teach the racist, bigoted Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideology is shocking and disappointing for the millions of Arizonans who support these measures,” said Rep. Jake Hoffman.

“The decision to employ strong arm tactics by vetoing over 20 Republican bills, presumably driven by some of his staff and advisors, reflects a fundamental miscalculation regarding the status and progress of the budget negotiations.” Hoffman concluded, “It is deeply concerning that they did not foresee how detrimental indiscriminately vetoing nearly two dozen bills would be on reaching consensus on the budget.”

Capitol insiders told AZ Free News that Governor Ducey has been absent throughout most of the budget negotiations, and most lawmakers have not heard from him or staff about the budget all session.  “Not being in town during these final stages of budget negotiations was a real disappointment. If he cares so much, why hasn’t he been here.” said one lawmaker who wished to speak off the record.

The bills vetoed by Governor Ducey today include:

SB1022 unborn child; statutory language

SB1030 guilty except insane; court jurisdiction

SB1074 governance; audits; training

SB1119 attorney general; federal executive orders

SB1121 marijuana; security

SB1127 vehicle speed limits

SB1135 taxes; 529 contributions; ABLE contributions

SB1176 nutrition assistance; benefit match

SB1215 liquor; sales; delivery; identification information

SB1408 medical marijuana; research; mental health

SB1514 emergency shelter beds; seniors

SB1526 prisoners; training; individual certificates

SB1635 reviser’s technical corrections; 2021

SB1716 Arizona state hospital; admission; governance

HB2296 restricted license; DUI; suspension

HB2303 marijuana; laboratories; proficiency testing

HB2414 marijuana; inspections; licensing; financial ownership

HB2554 party representative; resident; violation

HB2674 sex offender registration; termination

HB2792 early ballots; request required

The governor stated in his formal veto letter that the proposed budget agreement “makes responsible and significant investments in K-12 education, higher education, infrastructure and local communities, all while delivering historic tax relief to working families and small businesses.”

Another Capitol insider told AZ Free News, “I don’t think Governor Ducey realizes that his veto rampage likely created more problems than it solved. He wiped out a lot of hard work and expects lawmakers to come back because he now is finally interested in showing up to work after being AWOL all session? A lot of people down here won’t put up with this.”

Negotiations on the budget are expected to resume next week. The Legislature has until June 30th to pass a budget plan before the end of the fiscal year and avoid a government shutdown.

Bills Move Forward To Change Laws For Voters And Election Officials

Bills Move Forward To Change Laws For Voters And Election Officials

By Terri Jo Neff |

While much of the spirited debate about election legislation has centered on what happens after the polls close, several bills have been introduced to change the process of how and when a voter can receive and cast a ballot. And at least two new felony offenses would be created as a result.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-LD12) would make a felon out of any city or town clerk, or county recorder or other election official who provides an early ballot to a voter did not request it at least 93 days before an election, unless the voter is on the permanent early voting list.

Hoffman’s bill, HB2792, prohibits sending out an early ballot unless the voter complies with all early voting laws, including the request deadline. The intent, according to Hoffman, is to avoid situations seen in many states in the 2020 General Election when election officials mailed out ballots under the guise of avoiding COVID-19 contact at polling places.

Knowingly issuing unauthorized early ballots would be a Class 5 felony, subject to a prison sentence of up to 2.5 years, comparable to the sentence for facilitating prostitution and aggravated assault on a peace officer. Hoffman’s bill cleared the House last week on a 31-28 margin and is now under consideration by the Senate.

Another bill, SB1106, passed the Senate by a 16 to 14 margin last week. It makes it a Class 6 felony for a person who knowingly registers to vote in Arizona “solely for the purpose of voting in an election in this state and without the requisite intent to remain.”

SB1106 sponsored by Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-LD17) would amend ARS § 16-182, which currently requires a voter in Arizona to be a resident of the state for 29 days preceding an election and to have been registered to vote for the same period. It is now a Class 6 felony for someone to register to vote or to actually vote if the person knew they were not entitled to do so.

But under Mesnard’s bill, a new voter who moves away at some undefined amount of time after an election could have their voting action challenges and then have to prove at trial what their intent was at the time they voted.

A Class 6 felony is punishable by up to two years in prison as well as loss of several rights, including the ability to possess or own firearms. Comparable offenses are witness tampering, possession of drug paraphernalia, and theft of property less than $2,000.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-LD23) has had success with several election-related bills, including SB1002 which requires election officials to ensure that the envelopes used by voters to return early ballots do not reveal the voter’s political party affiliation. Her bill easily cleared the Senate on a 20 to 9 margin and is expected to be taken up by the House on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Senate transmitted SB1713, also by Mesnard, to the House on a 16 to 14 margin. The bill adds steps to the vote-by-mail process, so a voter cannot simply sign the affidavit on the ballot envelope and put it in the mailing envelope with the ballot.

SB1713 would also require the voter to include their date of birth on the affidavit and write their driver’s license or an acceptable government-issued ID number on the affidavit before placing it and the ballot in the mailing envelope. There would be a more complicated process for voters who do not have an acceptable government ID card.

If the bill passes, failure to follow any of the new affidavit requirements would cause the submitted ballot to be rejected.

Meanwhile, the House approved a bill last week that requires voters whose polling place uses paper ballots be offered a “ballot privacy folder” when given their ballot, although they do not have to use it. The bill, HB2362 by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD23), is now assigned to the Senate Committee on Government.