Legislators propose governor, not voters, choose utility regulators; Rose Law Group Co-Founder Court Rich finds proposal ‘surprising’

Arizona Corporation Commissioners ask questions of Arizona Public Service executive Don Brandt in September. Tom Tingle/Arizona Republic pool camera

By Elizabeth Whitman | Phoenix New Times

An Arizona legislator is proposing that the state’s five energy regulators be appointed by the governor, instead of elected by voters as they are now.

The suggested change would be a significant revision of the state’s constitution, and the proposal lands at a time of intense scrutiny for Arizona’s so-called fourth body of government — and one particular utility that it regulates.

Senator David Gowan, a Republican whose district is in southern Arizona, introduced the proposed constitutional amendment in a resolution, SCR 1048, in the Senate. Representative Ben Toma, a Republican whose district is in the northwest Valley, introduced a companion resolution in the House.

In order to take effect, the proposal would need to pass both chambers of the Legislature and be approved by voters at the ballot.

Under the resolution, the Arizona governor, with the Senate’s review and approval, would pick the five people who sit on the Arizona Corporation Commission, as the body is called.


“Our Founders declared in our Arizona Constitution that the office of Corporation Commission should be an elected office, and I find it surprising that people would suggest we change the Constitution to take away the voters’ power.  

“This is an office that was designed to be accountable directly to the voters, and I have a hard time believing the voters would vote to take away their own authority to hold these officials directly accountable.  Those supporting this concept seem to be pointing to the recent scandals around the commission as some sort of justification for turning this office into an appointed position.  

“To me, the recent scandals make the exact opposite case; this agency needs to be more accountable, not less accountable to the people.”

~ Court Rich      

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February 2020