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AZ lawmakers reintroduce vetoed bills for upcoming legislative session

A new Arizona legislative session begins next week, and state lawmakers have already prefiled dozens of bills. At least some of those bills aren’t new — they’re recycled versions of legislation that Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed in 2023.

Last year, Hobbs vetoed a record-setting 142 bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

In some cases, lawmakers have reason to believe the bills will pass and be signed into law the second time around. 

In other cases, lawmakers know a bill is doomed. But they sponsor them again anyway to send a message.

“It reinforces the communication to the voters that this is where the governor stands on this issue so if you disagree you should not vote for the governor,” Republican Sen. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) said.

Kavanagh said he’ll reintroduce variations of two previously vetoed bills, but this time, he plans to refer them to voters as ballot measures. If approved by the Legislature, ballot referrals bypass Hobbs, so she won’t get a chance to veto them again.

Rep. Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert) is reintroducing a bill that is somewhat an exception to rule. 

He’s filed legislation that would expand people’s power to sell food cooked in home kitchens. Known as the “tamale bill,” similar legislation  passed last year with broad bipartisan support, but was vetoed by Hobbs to the surprise of both Republicans and Democrats.

Hobbs said in her veto letter that the bill would increase the risk of food-borne illnesses and failed to ”establish minimum standards for inspection or certification of home-based food businesses.”

Grantham said he's made changes to address Hobbs’ concerns. 

“I just want to make it easier for people to produce the foods they love and sell them to the public. What people have been doing for hundreds if not thousands or thousands of years,” he said.

He criticized Hobbs for vetoing the bill last year and said he suspects it’s because her strings are being pulled by special interests like the Arizona Restaurant Association.

Democrats in the Arizona Legislature didn’t have much luck in getting their bills passed last year – or for several years before that. For the most part, the Republican-controlled Legislature doesn’t allow Democratic bills to even have hearings, which is the first step in turning legislation into law. 

Kavanagh said that won’t change.

"Just the ones that are wildly liberal don’t go through because we’re a conservative controlled chamber," he said.

Republican bills can sail through the Legislature on party lines without Democratic support. But they face a roadblock in Hobbs and her veto stamp.

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.