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Republican state legislators keep sending bills to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and she keeps vetoing them, including one she struck down Monday that critics say would have helped to codify fetal personhood.
Republican Rep. Matt Gress’ House Bill 2427, which would have lowered the barrier to file aggravated assault charges against someone who knowingly attacks a pregnant person, was one of four Republican-backed bills that Hobbs vetoed on Monday, bringing her count to 24.
While Gress said that his bill was aimed solely at protecting pregnant women, critics say HB2427 was a backdoor way to attempt to get fetal personhood on the books in Arizona in the fight against abortion rights.
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“This veto was crucial for protecting Arizonans from an underhanded attack on reproductive justice,” Democratic Sen. Anna Hernandez said in a statement. “Representative Gress and the Joint Republicans Caucus’ continued assault on our rights to safe and accessible abortion indicate that their ‘pro-life’ stance has always been about control not care. Our state deserves legitimate solutions that will uplift those experiencing domestic violence — but trying to disguise an attempt to codify fetal personhood as support is disgusting.”
In her veto letter, Hobbs explained that existing law already allows for a judge to consider the pregnancy of a victim as a factor in sentencing for aggravated assault, and that the state’s leading advocacy organization for domestic violence has said the bill will “do nothing to deter domestic violence offenses or support pregnant victims.”
Hobbs instead asked the legislature to increase funding for services and support for survivors of domestic violence.
“I’ll never apologize for toughening penalties on abusers who assault pregnant women,” Gress tweeted Monday, in response to the veto. “I also agree with Governor Hobbs that we should increase assistance to victims. That’s why I introduced #HB2805 that would provide an additional $5M for crime victims.”
Rep. Analise Ortiz, a Phoenix Democrat, praised Hobbs for vetoing Gress’ bill.
“Governor Hobbs made the right decision for women in vetoing House Bill 2427,” Ortiz said in a written statement. “I have experienced domestic violence and I know first-hand how the flaws in the criminal legal system fail us too often. The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence agreed that HB 2427 did nothing to protect survivors. To prevent domestic violence, we must invest in real solutions by expanding access to counseling, housing, childcare, and economic stability.”
Also a casualty of Hobbs’ veto pen on Monday was House Bill 2440, which would force public electrical utilities to consider both reliability and affordability when making investments and doing infrastructure planning.
“HB2440 is unnecessary and creates regulatory uncertainty in instances where reliability and affordability may be at odds,” Hobbs wrote in her veto letter.
She added that the Arizona Corporation Commission is already compelled by statute and case law to consider both reliability and affordability when making decisions. Critics of the bill have pointed out that renewability and impact on the climate should also be considered when public electric companies plan for the future.
As Arizonans face increased energy costs, Hobbs said that her administration is working on rebate programs that would help families who struggle to pay their utility bills as well as incentives for energy-efficient home improvements.
She asked the legislature to work with her on solutions that deliver direct assistance to people in need.
Also on the chopping block Monday was House Bill 2472 which says that the state cannot require a bank or financial institution to use a social credit score in determining whether to lend money to a customer.
“This bill is overly vague and should not be codified into law,” Hobbs said in her veto letter. “It doesn’t define ‘social credit score’ and this system doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States.”
The bill’s sponsor, Steve Montenegro said during a House Commerce Committee meeting on Jan. 31, that he didn’t know of any banks in Arizona that used a social credit score and that he didn’t think it needed to be defined in statute.
Social credit scores, which are based on a person’s behavior, are used in China to determine if citizens can do things like purchase property or buy plane tickets.
Hobbs says her administration wants to work with the legislature on increasing financial inclusion and access to capital for underserved communities.
“This bill does not address these challenges,” Hobbs wrote.
The final bill rejected by Hobbs on Monday was House Bill 2056, which said that dry washes, arroyos, swales, gullies and rills or other erosional features that have short-lived and low volume flows are not considered a water of this state or a protected water.
Hobbs wrote that this change creates regulatory confusion and uncertainty by causing a conflict between state law and the federal determination of the Waters of the United States rules and that it could threaten Arizona’s authority to enforce the Clean Water Act by creating a risk that regulatory programs would be taken away from the state’s control and given back to the federal government.
The only bill that Hobbs signed on Monday was House Bill 2550, which will allow the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology to create and implement registration requirements for eyelash technicians, as well as require eyelash technicians to be registered.
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