Hobbs vetoes transgender bathroom bill, reaches 111 vetoes
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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs continued to bring down her veto stamp on Republican-backed bills on Thursday, adding five more for a record total of 111 and putting a stop to a contentious transgender bathroom bill.
Hobbs is a Democrat, and with a Republican majority in both the state House and Senate, she by far surpassed the number of vetoes given out by any of her predecessors. Democrat Janet Napolitano, who was in the same position with a Republican majority in the legislature, had the previous veto record of 58 in one year.
Among Hobbs’ latest vetoes was Senate Bill 1040, which would have barred transgender students from using school bathrooms or showers that align with their expressed gender identity and from sharing sleeping quarters on school trips with those of the gender they identify with.
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“SB1040 is yet another discriminatory act against LGBTQ+ youth passed by the majority at the state legislature,” Hobbs wrote in a veto letter to Senate President Warren Petersen.
Hobbs had previously promised to veto every bill that came across her desk that she believes is aimed at attacking or harming children.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, of Fountain Hills, called Hobbs’ veto disgraceful and said in a statement that it showed “a lack of care or concern for the safety and wellbeing” for Arizona kids.
He also pointed out that the bill would have required schools to make other accommodations for transgender students who did not feel comfortable using the bathroom or shower facilities of the gender they were assigned at birth.
“Women and young girls deserve privacy and their own protected bathrooms, showers and locker rooms where they can have such privacy and are safe from the risk of sexual harassment or sexual violence,” Kavanagh said in the statement. “Unfortunately, Democrat Legislators and Governor Hobbs are catering to an extremist culture by pushing ‘gender neutrality’ as a means to win political points from their liberal base while stealing dignity away from women and girls in the process.”
Also on Hobbs’ chopping block Thursday was Senate Bill 1264, which would have barred election officers or their political appointees who oversee certain matters in elections from being a chairperson, treasurer or a member of a political action committee.
“There are few, if any examples of election-related issues created by an election election officer or their appointees being involved in political action committees,” Hobbs wrote.
Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer has been the target of ample criticism from fellow Republicans for starting a PAC in 2021 that supported “pro-democracy Republicans” or members of his party who were not 2020 election deniers.
Senate Bill 1597, which also got a Hobbs veto Thursday, would have required Arizona counties with populations of more than 500,000, which would include Maricopa and Pima counties, to provide at least one voting location in each legislative district where voters could have their early ballot tabulated on site.
“On-site tabulation of early ballots presents significant logistical and cost challenges for election administrators that are left unresolved by this bill,” Hobbs wrote.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. J.D. Mesnard of Chandler, said he believed it would encourage voting for people who want to watch their ballots be counted, something that some people complained about not being able to do because of issues with tabulators at some polling locations in Maricopa County during the 2022 general election.
“This is something that should be an option for voters,” Mesnard said during a Senate Elections Committee meeting in February.
Another election bill that got a veto was Senate Bill 1213, which would have required the state Elections Procedures Manual, issued before every election by the secretary of state, to receive approval from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
“Arizonans are tired of the Legislature meddling with Arizona’s elections,” Hobbs wrote in a veto letter.
Republican Sen. Anthony Kern of Glendale in a statement called the veto of SB1213 unreasonable.
“This bill presented a great opportunity for both Republican and Democrat legislators to provide input on this document which is important to our elections process,” said Senator Kern. “We as legislators create the laws that ultimately form the manual, so it makes complete sense that we’d also provide oversight for it.”
Hobbs also vetoed Senate Bill 1243, which would have repealed one individual tax credit and increased the cap on another individual credit for funds donated to school tuition organizations, or nonprofits that use at least 90% of their revenue to fund scholarships or tuition grants for kids to attend private K-12 schools.
Hobbs wrote in her veto letter that the bill essentially forces taxpayers to pay for private school tuition by diverting money from public schools, saying that over the last year STO tax credits have diverted more than $270 million from the state general fund.
“Protecting taxpayer dollars and ensuring our state’s fiscal strength is a top priority and I am committed to making informed decisions that work for all Arizonans,” Hobbs wrote.
Mesnard, the bill’s sponsor, said during a Senate Finance Committee meeting in February that the bill was only aimed at simplifying the tax credit process so people only have to fill out one form instead of two.
“It’s literally just trying to reduce paperwork,” he said.
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