[Fox News] Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes bipartisan bill to combat squatting, election bills

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Democrat Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has vetoed a bill aimed at strengthening the rights of homeowners looking to evict squatters from their property, despite the bill being passed in bipartisan fashion and as a wave of squatting cases continue to terrify homeowners across the country. 

The bill, SB 1129, would have permitted a homeowner to request law enforcement to immediately remove a squatter from their property, had the squatter invaded a home and unlawfully claimed a right to live there.

Police, acting on an owner’s affidavit, would have had the permission to immediately go in and have someone evicted.

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But Hobbs nixed the bill on Tuesday in a short letter to the president of the State Senate.

“Today I vetoed Senate Bill 1129,” Hobbs wrote. “This bill fails to leverage existing legal mechanisms, respect the due process rights of lawful tenants, and minimize unintended consequences such as for victims of domestic violence.”

She did not expand on her reasoning. 

The bill was crafted by state Sen. Wendy Rogers who slammed Hobbs’ decision, the latest in a spate of vetoes issued by the governor. 

“This bill has absolutely nothing to do with landlord-tenant law and has exemptions for family members and anyone with an agreement to cohabitate,” Rogers said in a statement, questioning whether Hobbs had even read the text of the bill.

Rogers said that criminals are scheming to take over homes that aren’t theirs, posing a threat to the safety of homeowners and infringing on their private property rights.

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“Although we have trespassing laws, it’s often difficult to prove a person is unlawfully occupying a home and can result in a lengthy legal battle,” Rogers said.

Rogers said that homeowners had testified in committee hearings that they felt violated about their property being severely damaged and the high costs of doing repairs. Florida and Georgia have already passed laws strengthening homeowners’ rights against squatters. 

State Sen. Justine Wadsack said he personally encountered a squatter occupying a home when he was working as a realtor and showing a client.

“It was a terrifying threat to my safety, the safety of my clients, as well as to the homeowners,” Wadsack said. “When I called the police, I was told there was not much they could do. It’s a shame Governor Katie Hobbs has vetoed yet another piece of commonsense bipartisan legislation.”

The veto was one of 10 measures Hobbs’ nixed on Tuesday, bringing the number of bills she has rejected this legislative session to 52. She issued a record-breaking 143 last year, thumping former Gov. Janet Napolitano’s single-year veto record of 58 in 2005. 

Hobbs also vetoed a bill that would define who can shower with whom in public schools and legislation requiring enhanced sentences for those convicted of multiple incidents of “organized retail theft,” according to Tucson.com.

Hobbs, who faced criticism for her handling of the 2022 midterms and the gubernatorial race in which she was running for governor, also vetoed two election-related bills. Hobbs took office in January 2023 after winning the gubernatorial election against Kari Lake, who never conceded her more than 17,000-vote defeat and repeatedly and unsuccessfully challenged the results in court.

She vetoed a bill that would have barred students from other states attending college in Arizona from voting in elections and a bill that would have given candidates for federal office the ability to send an observer to watch the ballot-counting process. That is now limited to those designated by political parties, according to Tucson.com.

But Hobbs did sign 12 new measures, including allowing political signs to be erected 71 days before an election, up from 45 and permitting off-duty police officers who are working on private traffic control duty to have red and blue lights on a vehicle.

Last month, Hobbs vetoed a Republican-sponsored bill that would have authorized police to arrest illegal immigrants, saying the legislation was anti-immigrant and likely unconstitutional.

The bill, called the Arizona Border Invasion Act, would have made it a misdemeanor crime for anyone to illegally cross the border at any location other than a lawful port of entry.

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