The Daily Agenda: Nominate early, nominate often
Prompt is in the eye of the beholder ... So many opinions, so little time ... And our Don Bolles bill gets a hearing!
While Gov. Katie Hobbs has announced her picks to lead most of the state’s agencies1, she hasn’t yet sent those nominees to the Arizona Senate to start the confirmation process.
Senate President Warren Petersen is already making hay about Hobbs’ delay in sending him nominees, threatening to sue to get them sent.
She should have sent them by now, but it’s also not a huge deal that she hasn’t. State law says the nominations should be sent “promptly” to the Senate, and if you’ve ever tried to get a public record, you know that the government has a different definition of prompt than most of us do. We doubt the Senate would act immediately to confirm these nominees, either.
Hobbs’ office said there has been a lot going on as she took over the Ninth Floor, but that the first nominees should be sent to the Senate sometime this week.
“Last week the legislature was talking about a government shutdown. This week it’s lawsuits against another branch of government. Rest assured — the Governor is well aware of the confirmation process and will be sending formal notices to the Senate in the coming days,” Hobbs spokeswoman Josselyn Berry said via email.
A lawsuit here won’t be necessary, nor would it be a useful exercise or good use of state money. The courts likely wouldn’t intervene for a while because the law is ambiguous about the timeline for confirmations.
The skirmish is all kind of silly. Nominations will be sent, the Senate will take them up, and directors will either be nominated or voted down, likely all in pretty short order.
But this early episode shows just how contentious we can expect confirmations to get. That process is typically sleepy when the Governor’s Office and Legislature are controlled by the same party. It won’t be now.
Some of her choices will certainly run into trouble. The nominee for Arizona Department of Health Services director, Dr. Theresa Cullen, for instance, led Pima County’s COVID-19 response and promoted vaccines and masks — something a contingent of state lawmakers despise.
A few of Hobbs’ nominees won’t need confirmation at all. Those held over from the Ducey administration who don’t have a fixed term of office — like Water Resources director Tom Buschatzke — get to keep their jobs regardless, the Senate told us.
For those who don’t get confirmed, or whose confirmation process gets dragged out, state law allows appointees to serve for one year without confirmation. If and when the Senate drags its feet on a confirmation — or takes however long you’d consider to be not “prompt” — we expect Hobbs will make a point to call out this early urgency by Petersen.
Nobody has an opinion: U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego’s jump into the U.S. Senate race put the leaders of Senate Democrats’ campaign arm and U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly in an awkward position, as Punchbowl News started asking if they’ll support Gallego or independent Kyrsten Sinema. Nobody would answer.
Everybody has an opinion: Meanwhile, we read no less than five opinion pieces (four in the Republic) about Gallego’s launch. Elvia Díaz thinks his candidacy is an inspirational story for Latinos who “have the audacity to try to defy the odds.” Laurie Roberts predicts a Gallego victory, assuming Republicans nominate another ultra MAGA candidate and Sinema doesn’t run. Phil Boas believes Republicans learned their lesson from losing with and says the uber-liberal Gallego may have a compelling story, but he doesn’t fit Arizona’s center-right electorate. And EJ Montini seems to doubt Sinema will even run for re-election. In the Washington Post, Jennifer Ruben agrees there’s a good chance Sinema doesn’t run, saying while Sinema’s plans are unknown, “there are few senators who would likely have as many offers for cushy K Street jobs with powerful interests as she would.”
Super Bowls ain’t cheap: Politicians love to talk about how much revenue a big event like the Super Bowl creates, but Axios Phoenix’s Jeremy Duda notes that we actually spend a lot of taxpayer dollars on it, too. Lawmakers and former Gov. Doug Ducey last year set up a special “Major Events Fund” to the tune of $15 million. That fund is controlled by the Arizona Commerce Authority, but most of its money has gone to a nonprofit that’s stacked with Super Bowl insiders like Super Bowl Host Committee president and CEO Jay Parry and Arizona Cardinals owner and president Michael Bidwill. In other Super Bowl news, the Phoenix City Council is revising its “clean zone” rules at tomorrow’s meeting after the Goldwater Institute sued, calling the zone a violation of residents’ First Amendment rights. Finally, Fox 10 dives into the question of whether the Super Bowl is actually a sex trafficking magnet or if that’s just a myth, finding that it’s pretty difficult to say definitively.
He’s just happy reporters still call: Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is 90 years old and completely irrelevant in politics these days, but he’s still a hero in the “constitutional sheriffs” crowd — which believes the authority of a sheriff supersedes that of the federal government, among other untrue things — even though he says he’s not one, freelance reporter Francesca D’Annunzio writes in the Arizona Mirror.
Bureaucracy at its finest: Arizona just completed its annual “point-in-time” count of homeless people, but the data has long been acknowledged as faulty. Maricopa and Pima counties think they have come up with a better way of counting the homeless population, the Republic’s Juliette Rihl reports, but because of federal requirements, they keep using the “point-in-time” count numbers.
In need of recognition: A descendant of the Hia-Ced people, a Native American tribe that roamed the Sonoran Desert until they were nearly wiped out by Yellow Fever in the mid-1800s and the remaining families settled on O’odham land, is trying to get federal tribal recognition for the estimated 1,000 Hia-Ced O’odham, Cronkite News’ Scianna Garcia reports. But becoming Arizona’s 23rd federally recognized tribe would take an act of Congress or the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and neither seems willing to make the change anytime soon.
Elections have consequences: New Democratic AG Kris Mayes tossed out a lawsuit filed by her predecessor, Mark Brnovich, that sought to block President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program, Business Insider reports. The program is already on hold because of other states’ lawsuits, two of which are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
She’s had enough: Cochise County Elections Director Lisa Marra, who stood up to her county supervisors’ illegal attempts to not certify voters’ selections in the election, is resigning, The Washington Post’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reports. Marra said it was because of the “outrageous and physically and emotionally threatening” work environment that included the Republican supervisors disparaging her publicly, suing her personally, and plotting to take away her duties and hold more meetings “where local election deniers will present testimony as ‘experts’ on election security and the use of voting machines.”
A long time coming: Navajo Nation Council Delegate Crystalyne Curley, a former Miss Navajo, became the first woman to serve as speaker for the Nation when she was elected to the post this week, the Republic’s Arlyssa Becenti writes. (The Nation also got its first female vice president this year in Richelle Montoya.) Curley is one of nine women on the 24-person council. Also, the Navajo Nation, which was among the first places to adopt strict mask mandates, was among the last to rescind them last week, the Arizona Mirror’s Shondiin Silversmith writes.
“You gotta pull the Band-Aid off,” new Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren told Silversmith. “I believe that it’s optional. It’s up to the individual.”
They don’t really want your feedback: The Phoenix Police Department is still reviewing its use-of-force policies and allegedly soliciting feedback from the public. After it didn’t make a comment link available when it first sought feedback, the police department now has a link, but it still has not uploaded the entire draft of its proposed policies, the Republic’s Miguel Torres notes. Your feedback on the policies you can't read is due by next Tuesday.
Bolles bill on the move: Our bill to put up a monument at the Capitol honoring murdered journalist Don Bolles is going up for a vote in the House Government Committee today at 9 a.m. If you have a story to share or just want your voice heard, you can come down to the Capitol to testify, sign in to the Legislature’s Request to Speak system or just send your lawmakers an email.
We’ve got another installment of our “get to know a freshman” section for paid subscribers. Sign up now to see who is today’s up-and-coming lawmaker.
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