Hobbs signs 20 more bills, vetoes another 17
Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes a Republican-backed “skinny budget” proposal on Feb. 16, 2023. Photo courtesy Arizona Governor’s Office
With this year’s legislative session basically at an end, Gov. Katie Hobbs on Tuesday signed 20 bills and vetoed 17 others.
Hobbs approved mostly non-controversial bills that haven’t gotten much attention so far this year, like Senate Bill 1013, which protects free speech at colleges and universities, and Senate Bill 1454, which will create a veterans suicide prevention training pilot program and create a veterans memorial state park for $10 million from State Parks Revenue Fund.
The state park portion of the bill is the result of what Democrats called a last-minute amendment that several of them took issue with during a discussion on the House floor on June 12.
“This bill does nothing for veterans but have them in the title,” said Democratic Rep. Stacey Travers, of Phoenix. She added that the park amendment didn’t specify what the park would look like or where it would be located.
Among Tuesday’s vetoes were multiple Republican-backed election bills, including Senate Bill 1095, which would have required envelopes in which early ballots are mailed to inform voters that dropping off their early ballot after the Friday before the election could result in delayed election results.
The Arizona Association of Counties did not support this bill, and said that county recorders believed it would cause confusion since they advise voters to mail their ballots by the Wednesday before Election Day.
“I am concerned that this bill could have the effect of discouraging voter participation,” Hobbs wrote in her veto letter. “These concerns outweigh any potential benefits that this bill may present.”
“Any bill that permits releasing the Cast Vote Record must ensure that a voter’s privacy is protected,” Hobbs wrote in her veto letter, echoing the concerns of critics that this bill could result in the unintentional release of personal information about voters.
Another election bill on Hobbs’ chopping block was Senate Bill 1595, which would have required early voters to either return their ballot by 7 p.m. the Friday before the election or present their ID, if they drop it off after that. Proponents said the bill was an effort to speed up the tabulation of election results by requiring ID for those who drop off their early ballot at the last minute, requiring a scramble to verify signatures on those ballots.
“This bill fails to meaningfully address the real challenges facing Arizona voters,” Hobbs wrote.
Senate Bill 1596 also got a Hobbs veto. The bill would have required counties to go back to a precinct voter model, with established voting locations for each precinct, with the option of adding voting centers where anyone within a county can vote. Maricopa and Pima counties in recent years have transitioned to using only voting centers, which allows voters to cast a ballot at any voting site within the county. The bill would also have required state and local governments, including school districts, to provide space for polling places, if requested.
“This bill creates an unfunded and untenable mandate for schools and communities,” Hobbs wrote. “This bill once had an appropriation, demonstrating that it needs funding to be viable. However, it was not included in the budget, and as such, I cannot support it.”
On the culture wars front, Hobbs also vetoed Senate Bill 1410, which would have given parents the right to complain about what they believe to be a violation of the rights of themselves or their child and would have required schools to investigate the complaints. In addition, the school district governing board would have been required to file an annual report detailing the complaints.
“Various avenues already exist to provide parents opportunities to raise concerns and file complaints,” Hobbs wrote. Without further justification on the purpose of collecting this data at the state level, SB1410 is an unnecessary mandate on school districts.”
Hobbs also nixed Senate Bill 1435, which would have ended the requirement for attorneys in the state to be members of the State Bar of Arizona, and place licensing instead in the hands of the Arizona Supreme Court.
“I had hundreds, if not over a thousand people, who tried to sue doctors, state officials, county officials, city officials who were telling them if they didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, if they didn’t mask their children in schools, if they didn’t comply, that they would lose jobs or be kicked out of school,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican Justine Wadsack told the Arizona House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on March 8. “The attorneys came to me telling me they were restricted from taking any of those cases because, if they did, the Arizona State Bar would immediately disbar them.”
Wadsack provided no evidence supporting that claim, and the State Bar has said it is patently untrue.
Hobbs pointed out in her veto letter that the Arizona Supreme Court was in opposition to the bill.
Senate Bill 1408, which would have made it a felony to use a computer to assist in human smuggling, also got a veto from Hobbs.
“This bill is yet another attempt by the majority to criminalize organizations and individuals who aim to support immigrants and refugees,” Hobbs wrote. “I implore the majority party to work with stakeholders to provide real solutions to support our border communities.”
The ACLU of Arizona, which opposed the bill, said that it would have put a damper on the work of organizations to provide vital services to migrants.
“The bill language was too broad and would’ve posed a serious concern of criminal prosecution for organizations that interact with migrants on a regular basis,” Noah Schramm, border strategist for the ACLU of Arizona, said in a statement. “We are glad that Governor Hobbs vetoed this bill and hope that she continues to find ways to support organizations that provide crucial humanitarian work in our state.”
Gloria Rebecca Gomez contributed reporting.
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