Dec 16, 2022 - Politics

Hobbs looks to compromise with Arizona's GOP legislature but eyes unilateral action

Photo illustration of Katie Hobbs with lines radiating from her.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs knows she'll have to compromise with the Republican-controlled legislature. But she is looking for ways she can act unilaterally as well.

State of play: Republicans hold narrow majorities of 31-29 in the House and 16-14 in the Senate, which means no bills can pass without at least some GOP support.

Yes, but: There are areas where Hobbs can use her gubernatorial authority without legislative approval.

  • In a one-on-one interview this week, she told Axios Phoenix that her team is "looking at the limits of executive authority and what we can do with executive orders."

Between the lines: Hobbs can also dictate policy at the state's many agencies.

  • She said agency-wide reforms at the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry are at the top of her agenda.
  • Hobbs also wants to impose reforms at the Department of Child Safety, which she said has faced many reports that removals and other agency actions disproportionately affect Black families.

Zoom out: In most respects, Hobbs and GOP lawmakers will have to find common ground, and she's eyeing water, housing and education as areas where they can reach compromises.

  • She said the aggregate expenditure limit (AEL) for school districts will be the most pressing issue she and the legislature face if it's not resolved in a special session before the end of the year.
  • On housing, Hobbs said, "The state really needs to be a better partner with local communities in terms of developing affordable housing, as well as just getting out of the way and letting it happen."

1 big point of contention: Hobbs said the biggest area of disagreement between her and the legislature is likely to be election policy, which some Republicans have spent the past two years advocating for major changes, largely in response to baseless allegations and conspiracy theories.

  • However, she said, there is room for improvement in elections and would support "minor tweaks" that would make the system run more smoothly.
  • She would be willing to consider changes that would require people to show ID when they drop off early ballots on Election Day so they can be counted without time-intensive signature verification.

What she's saying: "I've met with Democratic leadership and I think we're all focusing on this from a really pragmatic perspective that we have to be willing to compromise," Hobbs said. "I think there's lines in the sand that we won't compromise on, but I do think there's room for common ground."


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