Triadvocates Navigator: Special Edition (October 2, 2023)

October 02,2023 | TRIADVOCATES

October 2, 2023


Last week, Governor Katie Hobbs announced her withdrawal of all 13 unconfirmed cabinet nominees from Senate consideration. Withdrawn nominees will serve as “Executive Deputy Directors” of their respective agencies—a newly created role that will allow the governor to bypass Senate approval. 

While an interim agency director can only serve for up to one year without Senate confirmation, a deputy director does not require the same approval. As a workaround, Governor Hobbs intends to temporarily appoint her Director of Operations, Ben Henderson, as the interim agency director for all 13 agencies. Once appointed, Henderson will designate all powers of the director to the executive deputy director, after which he will submit his resignation as interim director. It’s a creative strategy that has some – particularly Republicans – questioning the legality. Interestingly, it’s actually not the first time we’ve seen this approach. When Democrats controlled the Senate in 1991, they refused to confirm then-Governor Fife Symington’s pick for the Arizona Department of Administration. So, Symington made that nominee the deputy director and left the top spot vacant.

Senate President Warren Peterson, whose special "DINO" committee was responsible for vetting nominees, is threatening legal action. As of now, only six of the agency nominees named by Hobbs have received Senate confirmation, while most others — including nominees for the Department of Administration, Department of Insurance & Financial Institutions, and AHCCCS (Arizona's Medicaid agency) — have yet to even be scheduled for hearings. For comparison, the Senate confirmation process typically concludes within the first legislative session of a new governor’s term, as it has not been viewed as a particularly contentious process, until now.

This announcement from Governor Hobbs impacts the following agencies/leaders:

  • Elizabeth Thorson, Arizona Department of Administration
  • Angie Rodgers, Arizona Department of Economic Security
  • Karen Peters, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
  • Carmen Heredia, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System
  • David Lujan, Arizona Department of Child Safety
  • Jackie Johnson, Arizona Department of Gaming
  • Joan Serviss, Arizona Department of Housing
  • Barbara Richardson, Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions
  • Lt. Col Dana Allmond, Arizona Department of Veterans Services
  • Alec Esteban Thomson, Arizona State Lottery
  • Cynthia Zwick, Residential Utility Consumer Office
  • Lisa Urias, Arizona Office of Tourism
  • Robyn Sahid, Arizona State Land Department


To read the Governor’s letter to President Petersen, click here.




In other unexpected news, Senate President Warren Petersen has announced that he will be dissolving the Senate Commerce Committee following the resignation of the former Chairman, Senator Steve Kaiser. It remains unclear where leadership intends to direct those bills that would have otherwise been assigned to Commerce.  





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