Concerns Raised As Governor Aims To Grow Workforce With Executive Orders And 100 Day Initiative

Concerns Raised As Governor Aims To Grow Workforce With Executive Orders And 100 Day Initiative

By Terri Jo Neff |

Her office says Gov. Katie Hobbs intends to unleash “Arizonan innovation” in order to grow the State’s workforce. This includes the first executive order of Hobbs’ term along with a 100 Day Initiative which was announced Tuesday.

“Right now, Arizona’s working families face ongoing economic uncertainties,” a statement by Hobbs’ office reads. “Governor Hobbs knows what’s possible when leaders work together to improve the lives of those they represent. That’s why she will work with the legislature to put more money in pockets and provide meaningful relief for so many working families in Arizona.”

According to the statement, Hobbs plans to prioritize lowering the costs for families with children through state level child tax credits, sales tax exemptions for diapers, and a sales tax holiday for back to school shopping.

She also intends to push for sales tax exemptions to help working families, and to help Arizonans secure good-paying jobs by creating more career and technical education opportunities and expanding child care assistance.

But how the governor intends to pay for her plan has not yet been announced.

In the meantime, concerns are being raised about Hobbs’ first Executive Order which was promoted by the governor’s office as “protecting employment opportunities” for Arizona’s workers.

As previously reported by AZ Free News, much of the emphasis of Executive Order 2023-01 involves barring gender identity discrimination.

Yet Hobbs appears to be trying to expand discrimination protection by dictating how religious organizations must operate if they want to contract with the State. It is a sort of reverse discrimination which Arizona law actually prohibits, according to critics of the governor’s effort. 

EO 2023-01 directs the Arizona Department of Administration to establish procedures for use by all State agencies to ensure that hiring, promotion, recruitment, compensation, and tenure “is on the basis of merit and qualifications” is in accordance with all existing federal, state, and local laws, rules, policies, or executive orders.  

It also mandates that “all new state contracts or subcontracts” include the same provisions to  prohibit discriminatory practices based on race, color, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, political or religious affiliation or ideas, culture, creed, social origin or condition, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, military service or veteran status, or marital status.

But many state agencies, like the Department of Child Safety and the Department of Health Services, heavily rely on religious organization such as Catholic Charities and other faith-based groups to provide much needed services, particularly for Arizona’s at-risk children.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, expressed concern that the anti-discrimination effort of Hobbs’ first executive order might actually violate Arizona law and the rights of non-secular agencies.

“The question is does the state want to continue to have faith-based agencies providing such critical foster care and adoption services?” Herrod says. “Because if they didn’t award the contract because of the religious entity’s beliefs, then they’re violating their constitutional and statutory rights.”

EO 2023-01 does not address how Hobbs will ensure those critical social services remain available nor how competing discrimination arguments would be resolved. But state law generally trumps an individual governor’s wishes.

And while the executive order will apply to thousands of state jobs, all state offices headed by one or more statewide elected officials—such as the Attorney General, Treasurer, and Secretary of State—are exempted from compliance. This likely leaves hundreds of other state jobs outside the scope of Hobbs’ order.   

“Although these organizations are not included they are encouraged, along with all private employers operating in Arizona, to adopt similar employment opportunity protections,” Hobbs noted in EO 2023-01.

EO 2023-01 does not confer any legal rights or remedies upon any persons and “shall not be used as a basis for legal challenges to a State Agency’s refusal to consider an applicant for employment, the removal of an applicant from consideration for employment, the denial of an employment application, or any inaction of a State Agency.”

Terri Jo Neff is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send her news tips here.

Lucid Executive To Testify Before Senate Committee About Workforce Needs As Production Ramps Up In Arizona

Lucid Executive To Testify Before Senate Committee About Workforce Needs As Production Ramps Up In Arizona

By Terri Jo Neff |

State Senators will have a chance Monday afternoon to hear a comprehensive update on the rapidly growing presence in Arizona of EV manufacturer Lucid Group.

Daniel Witt, head of State & Local Public Policy for the California-based automaker, is set to testify at 2 p.m. before the Arizona Senate Transportation Committee. The company produces its Lucid Air – the 2022 MotorTrend Car of the Year – at its Lucid Motors manufacturing facility in Casa Grande.

Among the topics Witt is expected to address is ongoing construction at its Casa Grande facility where deliveries of Lucid Air began last October. Other topics he will testify about the company’s hiring progress and workforce issues, including the need for support for technical skillset training in rural communities.

Lucid announced plans in late 2016 for a $700 million production facility to be built in Casa Grande on more than 500 acres owned by Pinal County. Construction began on phase one of the four phase project in late 2019, making it the first greenfield facility for EV manufacturing in the United States.

The first-phase of the Case Grande facility was completed in December 2020, with the initial delivery of Lucid Air vehicles coming less than a year later. There are now hundreds of Lucid Air vehicles on the road across America. The car is now the longest range, fastest charging luxury electric car in the world.


Phase two construction in Casa Grande is ongoing and will increase production capacity significantly, according to the company. By 2030, Lucid is expected to have created nearly 6,000 direct jobs with an economic impact in the state of more than $100 million.

With that expansion comes the growing need for trained technical workers.  Last year Gov. Doug Ducey celebrated the opening of Drive48, a state of the art manufacturing training center in Coolidge.

Drive48, which is part of the Central Arizona College, provides specialized training in the fields of automotive, advanced manufacturing, heavy equipment, and general industry. However, Witt is expected to address the necessity for expanding technical training programs at other community colleges across the state.

Witt is also slated to discuss Lucid’s broader economic footprint in Arizona. In addition to the AMP-1 in Casa Grande, the company has its Powertrain Manufacturing facility on the same property and is looking to establish production of its newly designed Gravity SUV in Arizona next year.

Lucid Motors also has a sales studio at the Scottsdale Fashion Mall and a separate service center in Scottsdale.

Last November, MotorTrend announced its 2022 Car of the Year award, selecting  the Lucid Air from a field of 24 competitors among several major manufacturers based on six key criteria: efficiency, value, advancement in design, engineering excellence, safety, and performance of the intended function.

The Lucid Air came out on top against finalists such as Mercedes‑Benz S-Class, Mercedes-Benz EQS, and Porsche Taycan. It is the first time the initial product of a new automotive company has been awarded MotorTrend’s flagship Car of the Year award.

“Our objective of achieving range through efficiency and technical innovation is crystallized in Lucid Air, and we’re elated that this effort has been recognized by MotorTrend against such formidable competition from well-established automakers,” CEO / CTO Peter Rawlinson said at the time.

Also last year, Lucid Group, Inc. joined the Nasdaq-100 Index, which is designed to measure the performance of 100 of the largest Nasdaq-listed non-financial companies, based on market capitalization.

Arizona is already home to Mesa-based EV passenger truck manufacturer Atlis Motor Vehicles as well as Phoenix-based Nikola which has a production facility in Coolidge for its EV commercial trucks. And last year, Vancouver-based ElectraMeccanica broke ground on a technical center and assembly facility in Mesa for its three-wheeled, single occupant EV.

According to the Governor’s office, several other companies have recently announced plans to operate automotive-related companies in Arizona, including EV manufacturer Zero Electric Vehicles, lithium ion battery manufacturer KORE Power, EV parts manufacturer UACJ Whitehall, and battery recycler Li-Cycle.