Apr 4, 2024 - News

GOP legislative leaders want reforms in Commerce Authority reauthorization

A woman stands in front of a microphone at a lectern with two men sitting behind her.

Gov. Katie Hobbs is open to reforms of the ACA, according to a spokesperson. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

With just months to go before the agency ceases to exist, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and Republican legislative leaders are still negotiating legislation that would reauthorize the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA).

Why it matters: The ACA, created in 2011, is Arizona's lead economic development agency and works to recruit major business to the state.

  • Unless the Legislature and Hobbs enact legislation continuing the agency, it will expire on July 1.

State of play: Sen. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who leads the Arizona Freedom Caucus, is pushing legislation to abolish the ACA, partly repeal some of the tax credits and incentives it oversees, and parcel out its duties to other agencies. Hoffman views the ACA as the "epitome of cronyism" and believes it lacks legislative oversight.

  • His bill awaits a vote in the full Senate. If it passes, it would go back to the House.
  • Meanwhile, ACA supporters passed a new bill in committee last week to continue the ACA for five years.

Zoom in: All state agencies undergo periodic "sunset reviews" that require legislative authorization for them to continue operating.

The big picture: Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) said the negotiations between him, Hobbs and House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Glendale) are ongoing, but there's no consensus yet and no legislation is ready to move forward.

Between the lines: Petersen and Toma both told Axios Phoenix they want to see reforms imposed on the ACA.

  • Attorney General Kris Mayes opined in January that the CEO forums the ACA uses to wine and dine business executives at major sporting events violate the Arizona Constitution's "gift clause."
  • Petersen said he's very concerned about alleged gift clause violations, and wants to see the ACA focus on government efficiency, permit and license tracking, and helping small businesses.

The other side: Hobbs spokesperson Christian Slater said the governor is open to reforms but wouldn't comment on what she'd be willing to support.

The bottom line: Toma said he expects the ACA to be continued and that any reforms will be determined through budget negotiations between the House, Senate and Hobbs administration.

  • Petersen said he thinks the ACA will be continued as well.
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