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KJZZ Friday NewsCap: E-Verify measure died in the Arizona Senate, but migrant bills continue

By Mark Brodie
Published: Friday, March 22, 2024 - 11:11am
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2024 - 4:49pm

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KJZZ’s Friday NewsCap revisits some of the biggest stories of the week from Arizona and beyond.

Marcus Dell’Artino of First Strategic and Dawn Penich-Thacker of Agave Strategy join The Show to talk about the results of Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election, the governor vetoing a housing bill and more.

Two people speak into microphones in a studio
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Dawn Penich-Thacker of Agave Strategy and Marcus Dell’Artino of First Strategic in the KJZZ studio on Friday, March 22, 2024.

Conversation highlights

MARK BRODIE: So, one of the issues that has been top of mind for a lot of folks here in Arizona is housing. And this week, Gov. [Katie] Hobbs vetoed the Arizona Starter Home Act to build, a had a lot of provisions in it, including dealing with the smaller lot sizes and some zoning, some zoning things that cities wouldn't be able to regulate anymore. Marcus, was it surprising to you that, that she vetoed this, given the importance of this issue in the state and at the Capitol?

MARCUS DELL'ARTINO: No, I, you know, I mean, maybe I'm in the minority, but I wasn't certainly shocked that she had vetoed it. The bill moved relatively quickly through the Legislature. We knew that the cities were, had some angst about it. And we know that she traditionally listens to, to cities and their needs. This is not the only housing measure moving through. There's a variety of them. I think that to say that one measure would solve the housing crisis in Arizona is short sighted, to be generous. It's gonna take pretty much everybody rowing in the same direction to get there. So I, I suspect, I suspect by the time we get to the end of the legislative session, there will be a housing bill that is signed into law.

BRODIE: Do you think it's one bill? Or do you think it's because, as you say, there are several others that are sort of percolating in the Legislature, could it be a combination of some of those?

DELL'ARTINO: It certainly could. There's no, I wouldn't limit it to just one, but I know that that all sides are earnestly working on a solution on something that they can agree with.

BRODIE: And Dawn, this is an issue that last year kind of famously crashed and burned toward the end of the session. There are a few different efforts to get something on housing done. Do you share Marcus' optimism that something will happen on housing this year?

DAWN PENICH-THACKER: Yeah. So, you know, the, the one thing that was maybe a little tough about the veto of the Starter Homes Act is that it was truly bipartisan and not just by one vote on each side, but, you know, a few extras for padding. There really is sincere bipartisan desire to get some housing solutions up there. And the governor in her veto act said, you know, I want to sign these, these types of bills. I want to solve this problem, but they need to be a little bit different. So I think that that will result in some good stuff by the end.

BRODIE: So some something else that apparently is not going to be happening this year is House Speaker Ben Toma's ballot referral on E-Verify. We learned this week that it's not really going anywhere in the Senate. Marcus, is this a policy thing? Is this a personality thing? What's going on?

DELL'ARTINO: I think, well, the business community has been quite vocal in their opposition to what I would classify as an expansion of the E-Verify program, is probably, for folks who haven't read the bill, the best sort of descriptor I can give to it. And I think that, you know, President [Warren] Peterson is listening to that business community saying, look, there's some, some valid concerns here we probably need to be addressed before we put this into law.

BRODIE: Dawn, what do you think? I mean, this, this was announced with great fanfare when Speaker Toma introduced it just a little while ago. It passed very easily and very quickly through the House only to hit this roadblock in the Senate.

PENICH-THACKER: I think there's probably a little bit of internal politics. A little bit of, you know, some people exerting power over others who they think might need to be, you know, sat down. So of course, Toma is running for Congress. There's another member running for the same seat in Congress who's in the Legislature right now. There's some angst between the chambers because, you know, Toma, the speaker of the House. went on a trip that took him out of the job for a week and people had, you know, feelings about that. So there's, there's the insider politics of it all.

And then I think, you know, if, if you take a 30,000 foot view, this is also one bill that is in this new attention being paid to anti-immigrant, possibly anti-Latino sentiment. There are these multiple bills that people are calling SB 1070 2.0, and I think that this is part of that category. So it's a, it's a sticky topic. But yeah, that one is not going forward, and I'm not mad about that personally.

BRODIE: Marcus, if this bill does not, or this measure, it's not a bill. It's a ballot referral. If this does not end up going through, does that impact Speaker Toma's primary race for CD8?

DELL'ARTINO: No, I, I think that, you know, any good politician will use this as an opportunity. And so I think his answer is, look, I tried and here's what I was trying to do. And it wasn't me, it was somebody else. So I, I, he won't miss that opportunity.

Two people speak into microphones in a studio
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Dawn Penich-Thacker of Agave Strategy and Marcus Dell’Artino of First Strategic in the KJZZ studio on Friday, March 22, 2024.

BRODIE: So Dawn, some more comings and goings at the Capitol this week. Rep. Jevin Hodge, who was appointed earlier this session to replace someone else who had resigned, has now himself resigned after some allegations of sexual violence, sexual misconduct from several years ago came to light. This happened pretty quickly. I'm curious, like, was this his decision or was he told you should probably not still be here?

PENICH-THACKER: Both. Yes, I think that there was incredible pressure from inside the caucus to say, you know, you need to excuse yourself from all of this immediately. I haven't been able to verify this but I think this might have been the shortest serving legislator, I think 46 days is what you got in before this came out. So I think that what this points to internally for Democrats is just need, needing to talk a little bit more and make sure that, you know, if you're putting someone, have you checked with the other people who have checked the references and, and you know, really what you're getting and getting a little bit better organized because, yeah, that legislative district in particular now now has to go back and renominate and reselect. And these seats are up in November, which means you also have to find candidates who are going to take them for the long term. And so it's definitely not the distraction that Democrats were looking for at this particular time, but.

BRODIE: Hodge was kind of seen as a rising star, right. He'd run for County Board of Supervisors and narrowly lost. He ran against David Schweikert and fairly narrowly lost. It seemed like he was a politician sort of on the rise.

PENICH-THACKER: Yeah, I think this is definitely one of those cases where the more that someone was kind of put up as a rising star, the harder the fall here. And so this will probably be the last that we see, I think, of Jevin Hodge, certainly in any kind of election, you know, campaigning kind of role.

BRODIE: Yeah, Marcus, the allegations were pretty serious and sounded pretty bad. Like, is this the end of end of the political road for him, do you think?

DELL'ARTINO: Certainly for quite some time, I will tell you that I, you know, the whole thing. First of all, the Democratic Caucus has been a giant revolving door in the House. You know, at one point they had four vacancies on the board. And so, you know, it'd be nice to get a solid everybody in their seats and seated so we can move on with some policy. But I suspect and, you know, this is a little conspiratorial, but these allegations came up after he ran for Congress. So he went through an entire congressional campaign without this stuff popping up. He went through an entire campaign running for the Board of Supervisors and it didn't come up.

You know, what traditionally happens sometimes is somebody sees the rising star within and it could have been a friend of his or somebody within the Democratic Party, and I suspect that somebody within the Democratic Party, decided to drop this. And so it was probably one of his friends that, that brought it to light.

BRODIE: That's interesting.

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