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Hobbs denies allegations she lobbied against a sober living homes bill

Gov. Katie Hobbs denies claims by Arizona’s Senate president that she worked to get a bill killed in the state House. 

Sen. Theresa Hatathlie (D-Coal Mine Mesa) sponsored a bill to regulate fraudulent sober living homes that have targeted Native American communities, but other Democrats voted with some Republicans and struck it down in a House committee

Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) accused Hobbs of working with what he called “grifters” to kill the bill

Hobbs says that's not what happened.

“We’re working with all the stakeholders to make sure that we get something to my desk that will help address the situation,” Hobbs said on Thursday.

However, Hatathlie has been the head lawmaker on this topic for the past few years, and she says she hasn't dealt with the governor in months and that the other two sponsors running bills on the same issue have “stolen” her work, and packaged it into less effective legislation. 

“I find no honor in that,” Hatathlie said.

The two bills still “alive” at the Legislature are sponsored by Rep. Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) and Sen. Frank Carroll (R-Sun City West).

Lawmakers who voted no in the House committee said Hatathlie’s bill would cast a “wide net” and go too far. The bill was opposed by behavioral health facilities and medical groups who don’t want to be caught up in heightened restrictions.

Hatathlie said she has asked for the opponents of the bill to bring her alternative language, but that she hasn’t gotten any in response. As for Hobbs’ involvement, Hatathlie said she doesn’t know anything about it.

Petersen said he was told that Hobbs worked to get Democrats to kill the bill, but he wouldn’t say by whom. 

“Ask the no votes on the committee. All the Ds in the Senate voted yes, but every D in committee voted no? Hmmmm,” he said in a text. 

All of the four committee Democrats voted against the bill, and three didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

The one who did, Rep. Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix), said “no, the governor, nor her team lobbied against it. … I am hoping to work with Senator Hatathlie on it.”

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