Hobbs used a decent chunk of her speech to press for changes in how Arizona uses groundwater

Opinion: Gov. Katie Hobbs had some tough words for the Arizona Legislature if it fails to act on water this session, but what do they mean, exactly?

Joanna Allhands

Arizona Republic

Some of the strongest words in Gov. Katie Hobbs’ conciliatory State of the State speech came on water:

“And to those who have spent years refusing to act: If you don’t, I will.”

What does that mean, exactly?

What does ‘refusing to act’ look like?

Hobbs used a decent chunk of her speech to press for changes in how Arizona uses groundwater.

She said, for example, that it was time to “empower rural Arizonans to have a say in how their water is used.”

And to “close the loopholes that allow build-to-rent and wildcat developments.”


But how?

In her speech, Hobbs touted the recommendations her Water Policy Council made late last year to address these issues.

But she didn’t specify that lawmakers should pass them as written.

And while observers expect Sen. Sonny Borrelli or Rep. Leo Biasiucci to introduce something soon based on the council’s recommendations for rural regulation, it’s unclear exactly how they will flesh out the particulars.

Expect bills on rural water, wildcat lots

The plot thickens, considering that Sen. Sine Kerr — who quit the governor’s council this fall in disgust — is proposing somewhat of a competing proposal to create a new form of temporary regulation in rural areas.

Her legislation also hasn’t been introduced, though it is expected soon.

Kerr may be one of the lawmakers to whom Hobbs was referring in her speech, because as the Senate’s natural resources committee chairwoman, she is considered one of two gatekeepers for water legislation.

What worries me most about water?Partisanship

The other is Rep. Gail Griffin, who chairs a similar committee in the House and has been criticized over the years for holding up debate on ideas with which she disagrees.

Griffin has introduced several bills addressing build-to-rent and “wildcat” subdivisions this session. Some of the provisions are similar to what Hobbs’ committee recommended, but not all of them mirror what was discussed.

Did Hobbs paint herself into a corner?


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January 2024