The Rio Verde Foothills Crisis Gets the Governor’s Attention…and a Veto

One of the most explosive local issues in recent memory, the Rio Verde Foothills water crisis, has been moving forward in this year’s legislative session (get up to date on our coverage here). Unfortunately for its residents, it’s not going too well…yet.

Indeed, the one bill to help alleviate the crisis has been vetoed by Governor Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s new Veto Queen. Does this mean that Governor Hobbs is unsympathetic to their plight? Well…no. As a reminder, there were competing bills in the legislature as to how to deal with this crisis. Representative Gail Griffin (notably from Hereford, nowhere near the Rio Verde Foothills) and her plan was a much more stringent plan which would obligate all municipalities in a similar situation to provide similar water relief to their unincorporated areas.

Why Griffin decided to push forward with a tougher bill that encompasses areas other than the Rio Verde Foothills is uncertain; while a more complete and overarching solution is important if and when other crises arise, reason would imply that such a solution should come after a more immediate and relevant fix. Perhaps she desires to put her name on a lasting solution and get the credit, but it’s unfortunate that instead the waters got muddied.

Thankfully, Hobbs made it clear in her statement that she is not against a solution; in fact, she clearly calls on the legislature to pass HB 2561, Representative Alexander Kolodin’s more specific relief bill to aid the Foothills. It is uncertain why the legislature decided to push through Griffin’s bill, but it does certainly seem to be a mistake from House leadership; they could have consolidated around Kolodin’s clearly superior bill and given him an important win in front of his constituency, thus furthering his popularity amongst his constituents and positioning him even more favorably in future elections.

Meanwhile, the residents of the Foothills are learning about the unfortunate aspects of government and legislation: that nothing happens quickly, that egos and pride can bring things to a halt, and that politicians are often more worried about themselves than the electorate. While they wait, they get the privilege of paying extremely high markups for an absolute necessity.

Ultimately, an embattled Governor Hobbs needs a win nearly as bad as the long-suffering residents of the Rio Verde Foothills. Hopefully the Senate does the right thing and moves Kolodin’s bill through quickly and this unfortunate situation becomes a distant memory…until the next high growth unincorporated area comes across the same problem