Caitlin Sievers

(Arizona Source) Gov. Katie Hobbs has brought down her veto stamp again, putting an end to Republican-backed bills that she said would unnecessarily change elections laws and force doctors to provide possibly painful medical treatment to fetuses that have no chance of survival, among others.

In all, Hobbs vetoed eight bills and signed five on Thursday, bringing her total veto count so far to 37.

The governor vetoed Senate Bill 1600, which would have required health care workers to provide life-saving care for all babies born alive, taking aim at abortion, but critics say the bill could mandate the torture of premature babies who have no chance of survival. Workers who violated the proposed bill could have faced felony charges.

The Republican behind the legislation, Sen. Janae Shamp, of Surprise, said it was about protecting the vulnerable.

“I will always stand to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” Shamp said during a previous discussion of the bill.

In her veto letter to Republican House Speaker Ben Toma, of Peoria, Hobbs wrote that the medical community opposes the bill because it interferes with the relationship between a patient and her doctor.

“It’s simply not the state’s role to make such difficult medical decisions for patients,” Hobbs wrote. “As a candidate, I promised to veto any bill that interferes with the reproductive rights of Arizonans. As governor, I intend to make good on that promise.”

Hobbs also vetoed three election bills on Thursday, House Bill 2322, which would have codified specific standards for signature verification on early ballot envelopes, House Bill 2415, which would have removed people from the active early voting list if they go a full election cycle without voting and Senate Bill 1074, which would have required all parts of all electronic voting equipment used in Arizona to be made in the United States and that their source codes be on file with the Auditor General.

“The election equipment required by this bill, as well as the problem it purports to solve, does not exist,” Hobbs wrote of SB1074. “This bill neither strengthens our democracy nor ensures that Arizonans can better exercise their fundamental right to vote. I stand ready to receive bills that do.”

In her letter to Toma, Hobbs pointed out that the signature verification standards in HB2322 were already several years old and would be more appropriate as inclusions in the Elections Procedure Manual than as codified into law permanently.

Republican Rep. Alexander Kolodin, of Scottsdale, excoriated Hobbs in response to her veto of the bill, and pointed out that the standards in the bill are based on those in the 2020 Elections Procedure Manual put out by Hobbs’ office when she was secretary of state. The secretary of state puts out a new manual every two years.

“When Governor Katie Hobbs took office, she said that she’d ‘find common ground’ and work across party lines,” Kolodin said in a statement. “Right now, Arizona has no laws setting any signature verification rules for early ballots, which help ensure that only lawful early voter’s vote. What ground could be more common making her own rules the law?”

The bill garnered bipartisan support, with 16 House Democrats voting in favor, including all members of the House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee. It passed the Senate along party lines.

“Instead of legally enforceable rules, she would like ‘ongoing’ signature verification ‘guidance’ that is non-binding and can be changed on a whim by a single person,” Kolodin wrote. “That is hardly democratic – or sober and responsible governance.”

Allegations that Maricopa County in particular does not follow signature verification guidelines laid out by the secretary of state is a key point in the failed Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake’s election challenge lawsuit.

HB2415 would have removed Arizonans from the active early voting list, which automatically sends ballots to participants, if they go an entire election cycle without participating in an election. Republicans said it was a way to clean up the early voting list, so that people who have moved or are no longer interested in voting by mail don’t continue receiving ballots.

“Arizona’s active early voting list is secure and convenient for voters,” Hobbs wrote in her veto letter. “I stand ready to sign bills that make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. This bill accomplishes none of these goals.”

Hobbs also put a veto on Senate Bill 1428, which would have barred Arizona municipalities from banning gun shows.

During a previous discussion of the bill Republican Rep. Cory McGarr, of Marana, said that banning gun shows would infringe on Arizonans’ Second Amendment rights.

“This bill needlessly restricts the authority of cities and towns to make decisions about how to keep their communities safe,” Hobbs wrote in her veto letter.

Hobbs on Thursday also struck down Senate Bill 1257, which would have created an assistant director position at the Arizona Department of Water Resources whose sole duty would be to work on projects to augment water supplies through importation of water to Arizona from outside the state, and projects to increase in-state water storage capacity.

In her letter to Toma, Hobbs said the bill included an “unnecessary statutory mandate” to create a position that could already be filled by existing staff. She added that the strict parameters of the position would handcuff the person’s ability to contribute to key agency priorities and functions.

Also falling to a Hobbs veto was Senate Bill 1253, which would have required sex offenders to notify their child’s school of their sex offender status.

While proponents of the bill said it was intended to inform parents and protect children, critics said that it could lead to bullying for the children of sex offenders.

Sex offenders are already required to register with the Department of Public Safety and to notify schools near where they live of their presence in the community.

“The Department of Public Safety remains best equipped to oversee all community notification,” Hobbs wrote in her veto letter.

In addition, Hobbs vetoed Senate Bill 1009, which would have classified defacing or vandalizing a public or private monument as aggravated criminal damage.

In her letter to Toma, Hobbs wrote that state law already allows for prosecution of people who vandalize monuments.

“Increasing the penalties will do little to deter such crime,” she wrote.

Bills that did make it past Hobbs’ desk on Thursday include:

Senate Bill 1270, which requires school boards and the governing boards for municipalities to provide enough seating for the number of people they expect to attend a public meeting.

House Bill 2214, which requires the use of a font color other than black when outlining a temporary law in bills and amendments.

House Bill 2223, which allows the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to issue microbrewery festival and fair licenses.

House Bill 2168, which extends an emergency law that would have expired June 30 of this year to June 30, 2028. The law prevents the prosecution of people who seek medical help for themselves or someone else in the midst of a drug overdose.

House Bill 2293, which allows people 21 and older to use an unexpired border crossing card to prove their age to purchase alcohol.