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Hobbs appealing court ruling that she broke Arizona law by appointing agency heads as directors

Katie Hobbs
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0
Katie Hobbs

Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs is appealing a court ruling that determined she broke the law by appointing her agency heads as deputy directors.

Arizona law requires the state Senate to approve the governor’s picks to lead state agencies. But the Republican-controlled Senate declined to approve or consider several of Hobbs’ nominees last year.

The governor pulled her nominees and reassigned them the titles of “executive deputy directors.”

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in May that Hobbs violated the law by allowing the deputy directors to serve the same function as real directors.

In recent court documents, Hobbs said that the governor has more discretion to do what she wants for the state. She argued upholding the judge’s ruling would give the Senate too much power to “shackle” the executive branch.
Up until last year, the Senate considered the governor’s nominees in existing committees. But, in her first term, Republican lawmakers set up a committee specifically for the purpose of vetting her agency directors.

The so-called “DINO committee” is headed by Sen. Jake Hoffman (Q-Creek Creek), the head of the Legislature’s conservative freedom caucus and an avid critic of Hobbs.

The governor said she’ll work in good faith with the legislature, but she doesn’t want to put up with Hoffman’s committee anymore.

“The DINO Committee has never taken its responsibilities seriously. It repeatedly questioned the governor’s nominees about hot-button political topics untethered to their fitness to lead the executive agencies for which they were nominated,” Hobbs’ attorney Andy Gaona told the court.

Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) said he’s confident Hobbs’ efforts will fail.

“Clearly, she’s trying to buy time and is hoping for a change at the Legislature so that she can avoid following the law,” he said in a text.

The case was originally brought by the Senate in December 2023. Hobbs’ picks to lead state agencies have been able to serve unconfirmed for many months.

Democrats hope to take control of the state Senate — and House — in the November election. If Hobbs continues to appeal, she may end up losing the case, but get a non-adversarial Senate to deal with next year.

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