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Arizona legislature expecting vetoes from Gov. Hobbs

Arizona Legislature
Facebook/Arizona State Government Legislature
Arizona Legislature

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- The 2023 Arizona legislative session gets started on Monday with perhaps the worst-kept political secret: Republican lawmakers are going to send bills to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs even knowing ahead of time she will veto them.

The frank admission by the top GOP lawmakers in both chambers came Friday as they and their Democratic counterparts gave a brief overview of the upcoming session at a luncheon hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"We want to try to work with the governor,'' said incoming Senate President Warren Petersen. And the Gilbert Republican said he had set a record several years ago as the lawmaker who got the highest percentage of his bills signed by the governor.

Petersen said every lawmaker has the same goal.

"How you have a high percentage of bills passed is you look at the landscape, you look at the legislators, you look at the chairs (of the committees through which the bills have to pass),'' he said. And that calculus, Petersen said, includes the governor.

His record, however, was set when fellow Republican Doug Ducey was the state's chief executive.

Now that situation has changed. But Petersen said that won't affect the decision whether to transmit bills to the governor.

"There may be some bills that you do know that are going to get vetoed,'' he said.

"I wouldn't imagine there would be a million of those or a huge block of those,'' Petersen continued. "But those may be important to advance your cause.''

Ben Toma of Peoria, set to be installed as House speaker, agreed.

"I guess I'm stating the obvious at some point here,'' he said. "But there will be bills that are going to be important for our caucus to get on the governor's desk that are going to be important for her probably to veto.''

What it comes down to, Toma said, is that Republicans and Democrats just don't see things some things the same way.

"It just highlights the difference of opinion on what is best for the state,'' he said.

Neither GOP leader gave specific examples of what issues they are likely to advance even anticipating Hobbs' rejection.

The confession of sorts came as no surprise to Murphy Hebert who is in charge of communications for the new governor.

"It seems to be how it works,'' she said. But Hebert also said that lawmakers should not be surprised when those bills come back.

"Governor Hobbs has made it very clear she's willing to use the veto stamp,'' she said.

And not just any veto stamp.

Hobbs was given a veto stamp that once belonged to Janet Napolitano, the last Democrat to hold office, which apparently had been kept by one of the former governor's aides. And he, in turn, presented it to Hobbs.

It comes somewhat used.

In her six years as governor -- she quit in early 2009 to become Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration -- Napolitano vetoed 180 of the measures sent to her, including a record 58 in 2005 alone.