GOP leaders attack governor on executive orders - East Valley Tribune: News

GOP leaders attack governor on executive orders

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Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2008 5:13 pm | Updated: 11:28 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The incoming chiefs of the House and Senate want lame-duck Gov. Janet Napolitano to stop issuing executive orders.

But the governor's press aide said that's not going to happen.

Sen. Bob Burns, R-Peoria, noted that Napolitano will no longer be the state's chief executive in perhaps just over a month.

"I think it would be nice if she would be considerate of the incoming administration and kind of leave things status quo as much as possible," said Burns, who takes over Jan. 12 as Senate president. In fact, Burns said Napolitano, nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to be U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, should "gracefully step aside and allow Jan Brewer (who will become governor) to do her job."

Napolitano, however, has made it clear she does not intend to let go of the reins of state government unless and until she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

What is causing the uproar is a plan by Napolitano to sign an order requiring state agencies to "meet and confer" with employee unions on issues ranging from hours and conditions to disciplinary policies. Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, who will be House speaker, questioned the timing.

"She had six years to do this," he said of Napolitano.

But gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L'Ecuyer said her boss has been studying the requests by unions for some time.

L'Ecuyer said Napolitano signed a similar executive order in February but only for employees at the Department of Corrections. She said the experience of the last few months shows that the program is good for both the state and its workers and should be expanded statewide.

Adams, however, said Napolitano never should have signed either one.

"That type of policy change, I think, is better left to the entire policymaking body," he said, meaning both the House and Senate. Both have been in Republican hands for all of Napolitano's tenure. And lawmakers in both chambers have ignored proposals to do legislatively what the Democratic governor is doing by executive order.

L'Ecuyer said Napolitano sees no reason not to issue executive orders, even if she does, in effect, have one foot out the door.

"The simple answer is, she has the right to do so," L'Ecuyer said. Beyond that, she said, "it's good policy."

Burns acknowledged that first answer - which essentially comes down to "because she can" - may be little different than President Bush trying to push through various changes in rules and regulations in his last months in office.

"Two wrongs don't make a right," Burns said. And Adams said the difference is that Napolitano has made "a constant practice" of making substantive changes in state policy solely by executive order.

Adams also questioned whether the "meet and confer" order will cost money.

"It doesn't help us in this time of fiscal crisis to increase the clout of unions of state employees as we're trying to figure out how to get out of this historic deficit."

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