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Lawmakers take steps to kill the Arizona Commerce Authority

A state agency that helps bring business to Arizona is one step closer to shutting down. 

The Arizona Commerce Authority aims to boost the economy and attract businesses. It will cease to exist on July 1, unless lawmakers vote to continue it soon. 

Sen. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) is on a mission to shut the agency down, calling it “the epitome of cronyism.” He advanced an amended bill on Thursday that would give the ACA’s authority to other agencies. 

“The ACA has lacked basic legislative oversight,” Hoffman said. “It enjoys several very broad exemptions that have made it far less accountable than even the rest of state government.”

Hoffman has also been vocal about wanting to shorten continuations for other agencies, or dissolve them altogether. His bill advanced on party lines without the support of Democrats. 

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce defended the ACA ahead of the bill hearing and criticized Hoffman’s bill as a “job killing effort.” 

In a statement, the Chamber of Commerce said: “The proposal would be laughable were it not for its potentially catastrophic consequences. Job creators are happy to continue a dialogue with lawmakers over the future of the ACA. The bill that already passed the House with bipartisan support should be our starting point.”

This year, agency continuations — which are normally somewhat routine — have become more contentious. Agencies that have historically been continued for eight or 10 years are getting much shorter recommendations from the Legislature’s Republicans.

But without the continuation bills that shorten agency lifespans or limit their powers, the agencies will go away altogether.

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