- Associated Press - Monday, April 10, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - A Republican state lawmaker who chaired President Donald Trump’s Arizona campaign effort in 2016 announced Monday that he is resigning to take a political appointment with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Rep. Phil Lovas of the Phoenix suburb of Peoria said he will step down on April 17. Lovas has been named regional advocate for the federal agency that assists small businesses.

Lovas said his contacts in the White House forwarded his name to the agency’s Region 9. The 48-year-old is a real estate investor and formerly worked in the hotel industry. His wife is a Republican fundraiser.

Lovas currently chairs the Arizona House Rules Committee. As chair, he has blocked some legislation, including a ban on texting by teenage drivers sponsored by Sen. Karen Fann of Prescott.

“I think the happiest people today would probably be Karen Fann and others whose bills I have held,” Lovas said. He made a reference to news reports last week that the bill was “in a coma.”

“I’d say it might be coming out of a coma,” he said.

Lovas’s replacement will be picked from three candidates sent to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors by Republican precinct committeemen in Legislative District 22. Lovas said he didn’t want to delay accepting the job offer and hopes someone is on board to replace him by the end of the month. The process is expedited when the Legislature is in session.

“The opportunity came up now, so I’m happy to go over there,” he said of his new job. “I wanted to make the announcement today to give our legislative district some time to kind of get things in order for whoever replaced me.”

Lovas has been in the House since 2012, when he was appointed to replace Rep. Judy Burges, who moved to the Senate. He said he’s most proud of his efforts to close vastly underfunded pension plans for elected officials and to pass legislation called “Right to Try” that allows terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs.

“Those are two things I look back on very fondly,” he said. “And then obviously helping put the state’s fiscal house in order with the budgets that we passed.”

Lovas’s job at the SBA will be to act as an advocate for small business with the federal government, particularly regarding the rulemaking and regulatory process. He will be based in Phoenix.

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