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Hobbs vetoes more bills, brings total to 42 on the session

Gender definitions, partisan school board candidates, right turn on red bills all rejected

Posted 4/16/24

PHOENIX — Arizonans won’t be electing school board members by political party, posting the Ten Commandments in public schools or declaring a person’s sex is permanently defined by …

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Hobbs vetoes more bills, brings total to 42 on the session

Gender definitions, partisan school board candidates, right turn on red bills all rejected


PHOENIX — Arizonans won’t be electing school board members by political party, posting the Ten Commandments in public schools or declaring a person’s sex is permanently defined by what they were at birth.

All those measures were vetoed Tuesday by Gov. Katie Hobbs. That brings the number of measures approved by the Republican controlled Legislature this session that she finds unacceptable to 42.

And there are still pending bills.

Most of what Hobbs rejected are no surprise. And that starts with Senate Bill 1628.

Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, said defining in state law who is male and who is female “provides much needed clarity in our statutes and uniformity in the courts.” That also includes who can participate in what sports.

Kerr cited cases — all from other states — where transgender individuals or males who identify as females have decided to participate in women’s sports and injured players who were born female.

Foes like Sen. Anna Hernandez said if Kerr wanted to pass what she dubbed the “Women’s Bill of Rights” she should focus on things like preventing gender violence, sex discrimination, affordable child care and access to reproductive health care “that would benefit all of us.”

Hobbs, who previously has vetoed several measures dealing with transgender rights, had a simpler message.

“As I have said time and again, I will not sign legislation that attacks Arizonans,” she wrote.

The governor had a slightly longer explanation of her decision to veto Senate Bill 1097. That measure, crafted by Sen. Justine Wadsack, R-Tucson, would have required those running for school boards to list their party affiliation.

Wadsack argued most voters really don’t know much about school board candidates. She said that party label would provide some inkling in what they believe.

Hobbs was not convinced.

“This bill will further the politicization and polarization of Arizona’s school district governing boards whose focus should remain on making the best decision for students,” the governor wrote in rejecting the legislation. “Partisan politics do not belong in Arizona’s schools.”

Wadsack had no better luck with her Senate Bill 1189, which would have barred local governments from prohibiting gun shows within their jurisdiction or adopting any rules that have the same effect.

She said Tucson has enacted rules that have driven gun shows out of the city’s convention center, with the result of them moving into unincorporated areas of Pima County. Wadsack said now the county is weighing its own restrictions.

“This is a slippery slope to restricting our rights,” she said.
Hobbs pointed out she vetoed the exact same legislation in 2023.

“My position remains unchanged,” she said. “This bill needlessly restricts the authority of political subdivisions to make decisions about how to keep their communities safe.”

The governor was no more willing to approve legislation that would add the Ten Commandments to the list of items teachers and administrators already can display and read in classrooms. These range from the Declaration of Independence and the National Anthem to the Mayflower Compact and the national motto of “In God We Trust.”

Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, who crafted the bill, said he blames “the progressive slide in our country” to removal of the Commandments from classrooms.

Hobbs, however, said she has “serious concerns” about whether the measure would survive a constitutional challenge.

That is based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a mandate to post the Commandments violated constitutional provisions forbidding the establishment of religion by government. The justices said the purpose of the display was essentially religious.

Hobbs also swatted down another proposal by Kern, one that would have prohibited governments from erecting “no right on red” signs unless an engineer certified it was necessary at a given intersection.
But Senate Bill 1299 also had a social component.

During a hearing on the measure, Jay Beeber, policy director for the National Motorist Association, said the decision of some communities to erect such signs is “part of a larger agenda to restrict our movements, to restrict the ability to use a car and make it slower and more difficult.”

Hobbs called the measure “unnecessary and redundant.” She said state and local jurisdictions already follow traffic engineering guidelines and standards when determining traffic movement.

And she rejected Senate Bill 1146, another Kern measure that would have barred the director of the state Department of Agriculture or the state veterinarian from requiring the administration of any mRNA vaccine that has not received full federal approval.

Messenger RNA, a genetic material, has been used to in creating vaccines to immunize the body against certain types of virus. It was specifically part of the development of vaccines to fight COVID-19 which, in turn, made it part of the controversy among those who opposed its use.

Hobbs said vaccines are an important tool for Arizona ranchers and farmers.

“The Arizona Department of Agriculture may rely on the use of mRNA vaccines in the future to mitigate disease outbreaks,” she wrote. “This bill would pose a risk to the health and safety of Arizonans, as well as the vitality of cattle ranchers and farmers.”

Other bills that Hobbs rejected Wednesday include:

• Senate Bill 1509 requiring the signatures of the medical provider who is performing a surgical procedure as well as the patient or decision maker, as well as a witness. Hobbs called it “unnecessary,” saying it already is standard practice to receive informed consent from patients prior to care.

• Senate Bill 1289 mandating the governor and the Department of Water Resources to submit copies of any report on hydrologic conditions in an active management area to certain lawmakers 30 days before issuing the report. The governor said the agency already publishes such reports and the bill would “drown the department in paperwork and bureaucracy.:

• Senate Bill 1153 spelling out that certain proposed agency rules have to first be ratified by the Legislature. Hobbs said it would “create an unnecessary burden on state agencies that would inhibit their ability to carry out duties in a timely manner.”