Gov. Hobbs vetoes bills to curb AG’s groundwater plan

Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services

Gov. Katie Hobbs won’t let Republican lawmakers strip away the right of Attorney General Kris Mayes to sue the owners of corporate farms whose groundwater pumping dries up the wells of their neighbors.

Nor will she allow them to erect hurdles for others who file “nuisance” lawsuits about the loss of groundwater.

In her veto of HB2124 on Tuesday, the governor did not address the claims by Mayes that such a change in law would undermine her ability to step in to protect property owners “where individuals may lack the resources to fight these battles.” Instead, Hobbs chided lawmakers who have been approving a series of changes in water laws on a piece-meal basis.

“I have consistently stated that water policy needs to be addressed in a holistic manner that provides real solutions for the challenges we face throughout the state,” the governor wrote. “I look forward to continuing to work with both the House and the Senate to craft a package of proposals that does exactly that.”

Hobbs used much of the same verbiage in her veto of HB 2063 which would have allowed the owners of certain wells, now exempt from having to register with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, a right to withdraw up to 35 gallons per minute.

But the bigger issue is the effort in HB 2124 to expand existing laws designed to protect agriculture.


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May 2024