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Today's newsletter is 929 words — a 3.5 minute read.

1 big thing: Hobbs vetoes housing bill

Gov. Katie Hobbs called the legislation "a step too far." Photo: Jeremy Duda

Unless her hands are wielding a signing pen or veto stamp, Gov. Katie Hobbs is taking a hands-off approach to negotiations over legislation to increase Arizona's dwindling housing supply.

The big picture: After vetoing a bill intended to facilitate construction of starter homes by removing some municipal authority over zoning restrictions, Hobbs told reporters yesterday she wants to see cities, affordable housing advocates and other stakeholders negotiating solutions.

  • But she doesn't see a role for herself in those talks.
  • "I don't necessarily think it needs my involvement. They're the ones most closely involved in this issue," Hobbs said.

Why it matters: A legislative study committee in 2022 found that Arizona was short about 270,000 housing units.

Driving the news: The vetoed legislation would have prohibited cities from requiring certain aesthetic and design features on single-family homes and barred mandates that people form homeowners associations.

  • Hobbs called it "a step too far" and said it "would put Arizonans at the center of a housing reform experiment with unclear outcomes."
  • Mayors from across the state, as well as the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, opposed the bill.

The other side: Proponents of the bipartisan bill called the veto disappointing and criticized Hobbs' assertion that her administration doesn't need to be involved in negotiations.

  • Bill sponsor Rep. Leo Biasiucci (R-Lake Havasu City) questioned why Hobbs didn't communicate with lawmakers earlier in the session about her problems with the bill.
  • He told reporters he wishes Hobbs were more involved, saying, "I know they're busy and I know they have a lot of things going on. But I think at the end of the day this is something that every Arizona citizen is asking for."
  • Rep. Analise Ortiz (D-Phoenix) told Axios that following Hobbs' veto "it is her job as the leader of our state to propose alternative solutions for the biggest economic crisis facing Arizonans."

Yes, but: Hobbs signaled that she may sign other housing legislation that's working its way through the Legislature.

Keep reading

2. Bojangles bets big on Phoenix

Photo: Alivia McAtee/Axios

Bojangles — a North Carolina-based fried-chicken chain with a cult-like following — will open 20 locations in metro Phoenix, the company announced late last week.

Why it matters: Bojangles is the latest in a series of exciting Valley expansions by beloved out-of-state chains.

What they're saying: We asked the Bojangles super fans at Axios to tell us why we should get excited for the chicken chain's arrival:

  • Axios Charlotte's Katie Peralta Soloff: There's nothing like a big buttery biscuit and chicken on Sunday mornings after a late night out.
  • Axios Denver's John Frank (a former North Carolinian): The chicken biscuit is spiced just right to wake your brain in the morning, and the Bo-Berry Biscuit is a sweet treat to power your day.

The big picture: Bojangles plans to open 270 new restaurants in the coming years, bolstering its current restaurant total by 33%, Business North Carolina reported.

What we're watching: Axios Columbus reporter Tyler Buchanan was underwhelmed by Bojangles debut in his city last year, in part because new locations have a streamlined menu missing bone-in fried chicken, ham biscuit sandwiches and numerous side dishes.

  • Buchanan said the chicken tenders, sweet tea and mac and cheese lived up to the hype, but he was disappointed by the "dry and flavorless" biscuits.

Spread the big news

3. 🥱 A ho-hum presidential preference election

Ballot drop box signs at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in 2022. Photo: Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images

By the looks of today's presidential preference election ballots, Arizonans have many choices.

  • The reality, of course, is that November's presidential matchup is already set and today's election is largely inconsequential.

The big picture: Both President Biden and former President Trump have secured enough delegates to clinch the nominations for their respective parties.

Yes, but: On today's Arizona ballots, Republicans will see nine candidates and Democrats will see seven.

  • Almost all of the other candidates have suspended their campaigns.

Zoom in: Maricopa County deputy elections director Jennifer Liewer tells Axios Phoenix that candidates who had previously qualified for the ballot would have had to file withdrawal paperwork in December to remove their names.

The fine print: Early voters who'd already cast a ballot for a candidate who is no longer running cannot vote again.

Tell a voter

4. Chips & salsa: Jevin Hodge under fire

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

State Rep. Jevin Hodge, a Democrat, was found to have violated George Washington University's policies against sexual violence and sexual misconduct as a student in 2015. (AZcentral)

👋 Phoenix councilmember Yassamin Ansari will resign March 28 to run for the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Senate candidate Ruben Gallego. The city council will appoint an interim member who will serve until an election is held in November. (Arizona's Family)

😢 Popular south Phoenix Mexican restaurant Cocina Madrigal is closed indefinitely after a kitchen fire broke out Sunday afternoon. (Phoenix New Times)

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5. Bite club: Soul food in north Phoenix

Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

👋 Jeremy here. Somehow I didn't notice a new soul food restaurant that opened in my old neighborhood in north Phoenix last year, but once I realized it was there, I popped in for lunch the first chance I got.

State of play: Momma's Soul Fish & Chicken opened in 2023 at the northwest corner of 19th Avenue and Greenway Road.

What I ordered: The catfish came highly recommended, but the pepper steak meal looked good enough that I decided to forgo the fish and chicken that are part of the restaurant's name.

  • I got the chopped steak and peppers over a side of white rice with gravy, with a little cayenne pepper on top.
  • It came with a side of cornbread, too.

The verdict: Outstanding. The steak was tender and savory, and was a perfect combination with the rice and gravy.

  • The honey-drizzled cornbread was sweet, moist and crumbly.

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🥃 Jeremy scored one of the last bottles of Rare Character maple-finished rye whiskey from Pitch and is looking forward to cracking it open.

🤷🏻‍♀️ Jessica will try Bojangles but finds it hard to believe it will be better than Raising Cane's.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Way and copy edited by Jay Bennett.

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