Arizona’s Legislature is currently under Republican control, with slim majorities in both the Senate and House. However, this is balanced out by a Democratic Governor. Even though having divided government can pose challenges, it offers potential for collaboration on budget issues concerning land and water.
As the legislative session progresses in Arizona, the focus shifts towards developing the state budget after many bills have been trimmed down. It is important to note that the Local Groundwater Stewardship Areas bill (SB 1306/HB 2731) did not receive any opportunity for review in the House or Senate Committees on Natural Resources, Energy, and Water. As a result, no progress has been made on either bill in the legislative process. In light of this, Audubon and its partners are persistently advocating for rural groundwater management and will continue working with local communities and leaders to demand action on this crucial issue in our state.
At present, our attention is focused on the budget process to make strides towards achieving our policy objectives. In Arizona, the Legislature cannot adjourn their annual session until they pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which commences on July 1. In recent times, legislative sessions have continued well into June due to a slim Republican majority in both legislative chambers. This has given these legislators the power to veto items in the budget that they support or oppose. However, this de facto veto authority has also resulted in a bipartisan budget as Republican leaders are compelled to collaborate with Democratic lawmakers to form a budget coalition. Last year’s budget was the first genuine bipartisan budget in almost 12 years and serves as evidence of this trend.
Lawmakers must work together across party lines to pass a state budget that Governor Hobbs (D) will approve before the fiscal year begins on July 1st. This requires cooperation and optimism, which is why Audubon is actively engaging with both Republicans and Democrats to advocate for including measures in the budget that protect our environment and wildlife, benefiting both people and birds.