Hobbs’ response to criticism she’s not doing enough to address heat wave

Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy urges Gov. Katie Hobbs to do more during extreme heat in the Valley.
Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 4:57 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Gov. Katie Hobbs is being criticized for not doing enough to address the historic heat wave blanketing most of the state. Sandra Kennedy, a former member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, is calling on the governor to declare the extreme heat a state emergency. “A heat event is just like having a tornado event or a disaster where there’s lots of rain and it is flooding,” she said.

She said this would free up what could be used to provide more cooling centers in state-owned buildings that stay open 24 hours a day. During a recent interview, Kennedy mentioned the state-owned Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which was used several years ago to conduct a partisan audit of the 2020 election. “We’ve utilized the Memorial Coliseum for the Cyber Ninjas. Why can’t we use it for heat-related events?” she said.

Cooling centers are among the few options for people seeking relief who don’t have air conditioning, especially in Maricopa County, where high temperatures have exceeded 110 degrees for weeks. Many of these facilities in the state’s largest county close in the late afternoon when temperatures are still extremely hot.

While many using the cooling centers are from the homeless population, 22% of heat-related deaths in the Valley this year happened indoors, in homes without a working air conditioning unit. U.S. Census data reveals more than 26,000 Valley homes don’t have air conditioning.

Gov. Hobbs recently directed state work inspectors to ensure employers protect workers from heat-related illnesses. And on Friday, she wrote a letter to power companies demanding to know their plans to handle this current heat wave.

In response to criticism that the governor isn’t doing enough, her chief of staff, Chad Campbell, said the administration is closely watching the situation. “Maybe it ends up being a statewide emergency declared, but right now, I would say we’re not going to do, the governor is not going to, do anything that is just for show,” he said.

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