Arizona May Follow Indiana’s Lead with New Agency

Get rid of the Department of Commerce. Move away from politics to policy. Create a new public-private agency that is squarely focused on job creation and economic development efforts. Indiana did it earlier this decade. Arizona’s plan sounds similar.

Gov. Jan Brewer plans to issue an executive order within the next month that will allow her to move ahead with a plan to create a quasi-public agency that will eventually replace the Arizona Department of Commerce.

Brewer first proposed abolishing the department in mid-April, saying the move was key to boosting the state’s economic-development efforts, including attracting and retaining business, growing jobs and competing in the global economy.

She wanted the Legislature to authorize her changes, but lawmakers adjourned before that happened.

It’s not clear exactly how much authority Brewer has to move ahead on her own, but her staff said this week that a legal analysis suggests the governor could use her powers to create the new authority, put in place its 15-member board of directors, establish parts of its budget and begin efforts to target new business and jobs.

Other aspects, including dissolving the Department of Commerce, would take legislative action; lawmakers aren’t expected to reconvene until January.

"We’re in the drafting phase now," Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said. "We think we can do quite a bit. . . . We can do most of it this way."

Republican legislative leadership said Wednesday that they were not aware of the governor’s plans, although both Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria, and House Majority leader John McComish, R-Phoenix, indicated there was "broad acceptance" that the Department of Commerce needed to be revamped.