Last week, Gov. Katie Hobbs’ veto streak killed a bill with strong bipartisan support. It was one of the 15 bills vetoed by the governor so far: SB1184, SB1248, SB1523, SB1524, SB1525, SB1526, SB1527, SB1528, SB1529, SB1530, SB1531, SB1532, SB1533, SB1534, and SB1535.
The bill that earned strong bipartisan support was SB1248, which originated from HB2529 by State Rep. T.J. Shope (R-LD08). SB1248 would’ve repealed the mandate for regulated health professions seeking an expanded scope of practice to undergo a statutory sunrise review. It passed 21-9 in the Senate, with five Democrats and all Republicans voting for it; in the House, it passed 42-18, with 12 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting for it. Hobbs vetoed the bill last week.
Talonya Adams, the woman twice vindicated in court for racial discrimination faced under Hobbs, said the legislature’s override of Hobbs’ veto “jeopardized her relevancy.”
“A principled [government] comprised of co-equal branches will eventually check a branch that exploits its power, with a [two-thirds] veto override,” said Adams.
So far, the legislature hasn’t overridden any of Hobbs’ vetoes.
In a letter explaining her decision to veto SB1248, Hobbs argued that fixing part of the problem with scope of practice expansion wasn’t sufficient for her since the government couldn’t ensure that these expansions would result in “equitable access to care.” She argued that the legislature needed to ensure equity in health care.
“Without the sunrise application process, provider groups could fast-track their priorities through the legislative process without adequate attention to why the change is necessary, or if it will impact communities with the greatest needs,” wrote Hobbs.
The same day that she vetoed the heavily-bipartisan legislation, Hobbs pledged to work with Democratic leadership to “find real solutions” to current state issues.
It wasn’t until last week that Hobbs allowed bills to pass unscathed by her veto stamp: SB1103 and SB1171. Hobbs said she signed these two bills because they were “good,” indicating that all other past legislation wasn’t.
SB1103 from Senate President Warren Petersen (R-LD14) allows the legislative body of a municipality or county to authorize administrative personnel to approve construction plans without public hearing. The intent of the legislation was to expedite home construction approvals in an effort to counter the ongoing housing shortage.
SB1103 passed 59-0 in the House and 25-3 in the Senate. Only Minority Leader Raquel Terán (D-LD26), Minority Caucus Chair Leah Alston (D-LD05), and State Sen. Anna Hernandez (D-LD24) voted against it.
SB1171 from State Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-LD13) aligned Arizona tax law with changes made to the federal tax law by Congress. The legislation passed without any opposition in either the House or Senate.
After vetoing a collection of budget bills last week, Democrat Katie Hobbs was ready to jettison another Republican-led policy as a divided state government remains far apart on solutions to help Arizonans weather the storms of a harsh economy.
Earlier this month, Republicans in the Arizona House and Senate passed legislation that would prohibit “municipalities from levying municipal tax on the business of renting or leasing real property for residential purposes,” sending SB 1184 to Governor Hobbs’ office on the Ninth Floor of the Executive Tower for consideration.
Governor Hobbs vetoed SB 1184, but her veto explanation struck a different tone than the one delivered to legislators after her rejection of their budget. The governor gave the following explanation for her veto: “I appreciate the legislature’s interest in addressing rising housing costs, particularly for renters. Lowering costs for Arizona families is a priority of my administration. Unfortunately, this bill suffers from two important defects at this time. First, this bill lacks any enforceable mechanism to ensure relief will be provided to renters. As noted by the legislature’s own attorney, provisions in the bill that purport to require that tax savings be passed on to renters face challenges under both the state and federal constitutions. If we are going to promise relief to renters, it’s important that we are able to ensure they actually receive it.
Hobbs then addressed the opposition to the legislative proposal from multiple cities and towns, including quotes from John Lewis (the President and CEO of PHX East Valley Partnership Board) and Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls (the League of Cities and Towns President), who had both urged the governor to veto SB 1184.
Republicans in the Legislature were not happy with Hobbs’ action to stop their bill from becoming law. Senate bill sponsor, Steve Kaiser, responded to the governor’s veto, saying, “Rent is the costliest expense for hundreds of Arizonans, but Governor Hobbs is clearly not among their ranks. If she was, she would know that in 70 cities across our state, renters see and pay for a rental tax line item on each monthly bill. Senate Republicans offered a substantive plan to fight spiking inflation that Hobbs vetoed. Governor Hobbs inflation plan? A limited tax exemption for diapers and feminine hygiene products. By her own logic used to veto SB 1184, her proposal would be a tax break for grocery stores, not consumers. Grocery stores, just like landlords, collect and remit tax paid for by consumers. Unlike Hobbs, our citizens don’t have the luxury of falling back on the semantics of tax collection, they feel the hurt of onerous taxation in their wallets.”
House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci tweeted, “Removing the Home/Apartment rental tax would save Arizona renters $100-$200 per year. Yet, Governor Hobbs vetoed the rental tax repeal bill today. This idea that she’s a Governor for the people is now officially a lie! Watch, she’ll veto the grocery food tax repeal bill next!”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.