Hobbs puts the brakes on Senate’s most prolific bill sponsor
The Arizona State Legislature’s most prolific bill sponsor, Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, of Fountain Hills, proposed 86 pieces of legislation this year. Kavanagh, who has been a legislator for around 16 years, has a reputation for sponsoring a large number of bills each year, but with Democrat Katie Hobbs in the governor’s seat, he’s having a lot less luck getting those bills signed than in the past.
Kavanagh told the Arizona Mirror that last year, under Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, around 30 of the bills he proposed were signed into law. So far this year, Hobbs has only signed four of Kavanagh’s bills, while she vetoed 17 of them, including 13 budget bills.
“Obviously it’s disappointing, but you still advocate for what you told your members you would advocate for,” Kavanagh told the Mirror. “It sends a message that I’m true to my word. But I think it’s also important for the voters, come next election, to not only know what Gov. Hobbs is for, but what she’s against, because that’s important too.”
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While 32 of Kavanagh’s proposals still have a chance for approval, 46 of them essentially have little to no chance of becoming law because they were either never assigned to a legislative committee or a committee never forwarded them to the House or Senate for a vote.
Kavanagh is still hopeful that more of his proposed bills will be signed into law yet this year, but knows that most of them won’t have a chance against Hobbs’ veto stamp.
“I do a lot of really hard core conservative bills, which in the past I’ve been very successful with but I believe I will be in a four-year hiatus in that area,” Kavanagh said.
In his eyes, the most important bill he proposed this year is Senate Bill 1040, which would force schools to provide separate bathroom, shower and locker room accommodations for transgender students or else risk lawsuits. Opponents have called the bill anti-trans, since it has the potential to ostracize trans students from their peers, but Kavanagh claimed that the bill is aimed to protect the modesty of students.
“Those aren’t anti-transgender bills, I’m just protecting people’s modesty and women’s competition in sports and that doesn’t make you anti-transgender,” Kavanagh said. “I have no problem with transgender people. Whatever you want to do is fine with me. I grew up in New York. I’ve seen a lot of weird things in my 20 years as a cop there and I don’t judge.”
While Kavanagh knows that SB1040 has little chance of being signed into law, he believes that Hobbs should do more investigation and be more thoughtful about which bills she vetoes, pointing to her recent veto of what’s been dubbed the “tamale bill.”
Hobbs promised to only sign bills that garner support from a Democratic majority, and to veto those that don’t meet that mark. Hobbs strayed from that promise when she vetoed House Bill 2509, now commonly referred to as the “tamale bill” on April 18. The bill, which would have allowed home cooks to make and sell foods that require refrigeration, passed both the House and Senate with supermajorities, but Hobbs vetoed it anyway, saying that it would have increased the risk for food-borne illnesses.
A Hobbs spokesperson told the Mirror that she was unavailable for an interview for this story and did not answer questions submitted to the governor.
“I promised to deliver sanity, not chaos in the governor’s office and I am delivering,” Hobbs said in a previous statement. “I will gladly work with anybody who will be a partner in addressing the real problems Arizonans face, but I refuse to play political games with our state government. I’m proud of the bipartisan accomplishments we have achieved and encourage leaders in our legislature to continue to come together and pass real solutions that will grow jobs, build roads and bridges, invest in education, and deal with our water crisis.”
The four bills that Kavanagh proposed which have been signed into law are:
- Senate Bill 1036, which prevents those who have been convicted of a felony from receiving more than one certificate of second chance to set aside a conviction;
- Senate Bill 1049, which stops homeowners’ associations from banning the outdoor display of any historic version of the American flag, including the Betsy Ross flag;
- Senate Bill 1134, which appropriates almost $230,000 to pay claims against state agencies; and
- Senate Bill 1270, which requires public boards, like school boards and city councils to attempt to provide enough seating for the number of people expected to attend a public meeting.
Out of the 30 Kavanagh bills and his two Senate Concurrent Resolutions that still have a chance of becoming law, he’s hopeful that Senate Bill 1025 will be one of them. That bill would force municipalities, which are mostly barred from banning campaign signs, to create only small, compact areas where campaign signs are not allowed. Kavanagh has called out Fountain Hills and Paradise Valley for creating political-sign free zones — meant to be limited only to tourist and scenic areas — that are long and thin and basically just follow all of their streets.
“They gamed the system,” Kavanagh said.
He’s also hopeful that his Senate Bill 1038, which would create an advisory panel for Arizona’s probate courts, will be signed into law. The Probate Advisory Panel would aim to find ways to improve adult guardianship and conservatorship laws, after adults who were formally under guardianship and their families complained of mistreatment in the probate courts.
Kavanagh bills that Hobbs has vetoed include:
- Senate Bill 1021, which would have required the attorney general to defend all Arizona laws against legal challenges;
- Senate Bill 1012, which would have prohibited unsheltered people from creating or maintaining an enclosure for shelter in a public street, highway, sidewalk or other right-of-way;
- Senate Bill 1009, which would have classified defacing, damaging, or tampering with a public or private monument, memorial or statue as aggravated criminal damage; and
- Senate Bill 1005, which prevents a court from granting attorney fees or damages to a government or official that was a defendant in a suit claiming that the government entity or official interfered with a parent’s “right to direct the upbringing of their child.”