State legislators finished off their 2011 session Wednesday morning by approving more than five dozen bills and shipping them off to Gov. Jan Brewer.
But the governor, who has until May 2 to decide what to do with them, already has her eye on one of them as veto bait.
The package of last-minute legislative enactments covers the spectrum of issues, from technical changes in how fire districts handle their accounts to whether the state’s two largest cities should be forced to let private companies bid to take services away from government workers. There also are questions of whether the state should solicit donations to build its own border fence on private property, whether hunting should be allowed in undeveloped areas within city limits and whether a host of special interest groups should be entitled to get their own special state license plates.
And then there is the decision of whether Arizona should have its own “official’’ state firearm.
All this comes as Brewer acknowledged there may be a bit of a difference in the way she is making decisions now than two years ago when she found herself governor after Janet Napolitano quit to take a job in the Obama administration.
At that time she was governor solely by succession, having been elected to the quite-different post of secretary of state. This past November she won a full term in her own right after defeating Democrat Terry Goddard by a large margin.
Brewer, in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday with Capitol Media Services, said her basic views have not changed.
“I believe that I’ve always been my own person all the time I’ve been an elected official,’’ she said. “Maybe it just comes across stronger now.’’
Still, she said it’s different being an elected governor.
“You feel much more secure about making decisions,’’ Brewer said.
The numbers bear that out. Even before lawmakers ended their session this year she already had vetoed seven bills. And she still has 168 more on her desk to review.
One likely prospect rises to the top.
Brewer said she understands the old adage that where you stand depends on where you sit.
She conceded that, as a state legislator, she voted for bills to wrest control of federal funding from the state’s chief executive. Every governor of every party has vetoed every effort, each one saying the authority needs to remain where it is.
Now it’s Brewer’s turn to decide.
“It’s something that I’m not real comfortable with,’’ she said.
Brewer signaled her emerging views about the constitutional separation of powers earlier this week: She rejected legislation requiring her to enter into compacts with other states to come up with health plan alternatives to federal law, saying lawmakers cannot dictate to her what she must do.
The governor’s political history could play into what she does with that bill on her desk on bidding out municipal services.
It does not require cities to accept any specific proposal. But it would require public posting of any proposals received.
Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said that will pressure officials to award contracts in some cases.
The governor won’t say what she plans to do with this bill. But she sees the issue from a slightly different perspective. As a Maricopa County supervisor for six years, Brewer said her board was often on the receiving end of legislative mandates.
“Philosophically, I feel very strongly about not having other levels of government meddling in things of people who have already been elected to do those things,’’ she said.
“We see it over and over again, the federal government doing it to the state, the state doing it to the counties and the cities,’’ Brewer continued. “And it’s just wrong.’’
She said that, with exceptions, most of these decisions should be left to people who are “closer to the problems and closer to the solutions.’’
Brewer also will get a chance to decide how many state license plates is too many.
The Arizona Department of Transportation reports there already are more than 60 different designs. Some are available only to people who meet certain qualifications, like firefighters or former prisoners of war. But most of the rest help groups raise money, ranging from universities and cancer research to anti-abortion causes.
Brewer now has to decide whether to add nine more causes to that list, including one to help finance tea party causes.
One bill on Brewer’s desk is being closely watched by outsiders.
It would override existing laws that say government agencies can declare their buildings to be gun-free zones simply by posting a sign on the door and providing storage lockers. Instead, the building operators would have to hire guards and purchase metal detectors.
Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said the current laws are meaningless, as only law-abiding citizens give up their guns. He said that leaves them defenseless when someone else ignores the signs.
“You know, I’m a big proponent of the Second Amendment and I have a long history of supporting it,’’ Brewer said. But the governor said that does not necessarily translate into signing the bill.
That became clear earlier this week when Brewer imprinted her veto on another Gould bill, this one to allow individuals to carry their weapons, open or concealed, anywhere on the public rights of way in and around state university and community college campuses. But the governor said the issue there was what she called “poorly written’’ legislation.
Brewer sidestepped the question about the other gun bill on her desk, the one to declare the Colt single-action Army revolver to be the official state firearm.
“I’ve not seen the bill, I’ve not been briefed on the bill,’’ she said.