Apr 25, 2023 - Politics

Dems mostly side with Hobbs to block override of "tamale bill" veto

A table filled with tamales, sheets of stickers and yellow signs that read Free The Tamales.

A table outside the Arizona House by the LIBRE Initiative, a conservative Latino organization. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

An attempt to override a gubernatorial veto in Arizona for the first time since 1981 fell short on Tuesday after House Democrats, many of whom voted for the original legislation, rallied around Gov. Katie Hobbs to block the "tamale bill" from going into law.

  • Advocates organized dueling press conferences, filled the House gallery and handed out tamales at a stand on the Capitol mall.

What happened: A House vote to override Hobbs' veto of HB2509 failed 35-23, falling short of the two-thirds supermajority it needed.

  • The bill would have expanded the law governing "cottage foods" to allow people to sell perishable homemade goods like tamales.
  • Hobbs vetoed the bill, citing concerns that it increased the risk of food-borne illnesses.

Why it matters: Supporters of the measure argued that sales of home-cooked foods are an important source of income for many families, and some Hispanic lawmakers cited it as particularly important for Latino communities.

State of play: Seventeen House Democrats voted for the bill earlier this month, but 12 voted against overriding a governor from their own party.

  • Democratic Reps. Alma Hernandez, Consuelo Hernandez, Lydia Hernandez, Melody Hernandez and Myron Tsosie voted for the override.

What's next: After her veto, Hobbs and Democratic supporters of the bill raised the possibility of negotiating a successor bill that would address some of the governor's concerns.

  • Rep. Teresa Martinez, a Casa Grande Republican who has been one of the bill's most vocal champions, told reporters she's open to a compromise, but won't agree to intrusive inspections of home kitchens.
  • Paul Avelar of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal advocacy group that's lobbied for changes to cottage food laws in Arizona and other states, said the governor also wants a cap on the amount of home-cooked food that people can sell, which the administration wouldn't confirm or deny to Axios Phoenix.

What they're saying: Rep. Travis Grantham, a Gilbert Republican who sponsored the bill, said the veto override vote is about policy, not politics.

  • "What you're going to see today, I fear, is a governor controlling a portion of this body for no good reason," he said in a floor speech.
  • "The people of District 21 elected me to be here, not the Ninth Floor," said Consuelo Hernandez, who spoke about how her mother sold cakes after her father lost his construction job.

Yes, but: Republicans have traditionally hesitated to overturn vetoes from governors of their own party.

  • Of the 111 bills that former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed during his eight years in office, 58 had at least two-thirds of the vote in both chambers.
  • Only once did lawmakers attempt to override one of his vetoes.
  • In 2011-12, GOP lawmakers had supermajorities in both chambers, but never overturned one of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's vetoes.

The other side: The Hobbs administration has not commented on what her conditions would be for signing similar legislation this year, but spokesperson Christian Slater said she doesn't want random searches of home kitchens.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.


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