Jan 19, 2024 - News

The tamale bill makes a comeback at the Capitol

Illustration of a hand with a pen about to sign off on a plate of tamales.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Last year's "tamale bill" took a step forward, the Arizona Commerce Authority's future is in doubt and Gov. Katie Hobbs' budget plan got a frosty reception as the Legislature wrapped its second week of the 2024 session.

Details: The House Committee on Regulatory Affairs unanimously approved legislation to legalize the sale of perishable home-cooked foods, a successor to last year's tamale bill.

State of play: Some Republicans are taking aim at the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) as it seeks reauthorization, without which it'll expire in July.

  • A state auditor general's report last year highlighted problems such as a lack of documentation showing that companies had met requirements for subsidies and lavish spending on things like Super Bowl tickets to woo out-of-state executives, the latter of which the attorney general's office said this week violates the Arizona Constitution.
  • The Senate Government Committee voted 4-3 to recommend the agency "revise and consolidate" rather than be reauthorized in its current form.
  • Sen. Jake Hoffman, a Queen Creek Republican who chairs the committee, has also sponsored legislation to abolish the ACA.

Flashback: Former Gov. Jan Brewer shepherded the public-private ACA into existence to replace the old Arizona Department of Commerce in 2011.

Between the lines: GOP lawmakers panned Hobbs' executive budget proposal in a joint appropriations hearing on Tuesday, taking particular umbrage with her plan to resolve the deficit by curtailing a universal school voucher program and eliminating tax credits used to fund private school tuition to students.

  • They also criticized Hobbs' proposal to claw back unspent money from a variety of projects added to the current budget at Republicans' request.
  • The governor's office assured reporters last week it has a Plan B in the almost-certain event Republicans reject her proposals to scale back the two school choice programs, but Hobbs has yet to release details.

Meanwhile, the ​​Senate Transportation, Technology and Missing Children Committee OK'd a bill to ban red light cameras, and Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, wants to refer a similar proposal to the November ballot.


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