2016 Ballot Props Tightened Restrictions
Recently there have been many challenges to this process. Of the 38 propositions filed with the AZ Secretary of State for the 2016 elections, only 2 made it to voters, and both of those suffered last minute challenges too. Ben Giles and Rachel Leingang of the AZ Capitol Times discussed one legal factor affecting all propositions. Under new law, fate of initiatives depends on whether circulators show up in court.
Reprinted by LWVMP with permission.
The measure, House Bill 2404, was promoted as a way to fight fraud in petition-signature gathering by banning the paying of circulators for each signature they collect. Instead, they would most likely earn an hourly wage. "Restrictions on Initiative Process" was passed 35-2 by the Senate and signed immediately by the Governor. Sponsored by Leach, this highly restrictive bill is intended to make it even more difficult for citizens to get an issue on the ballot. Previous Legislatures have shortened the time period for collecting signatures, increased oversight of signature-gatherers, increased the percentage of signatures needed, and in other ways restricted the use of the citizen initiative process. This bill severely hampers the ability of organizations to hire people to collect signatures, makes it difficult to recruit them, and prohibits paying them on a per signature basis. Supporters contend they have taken out the most objectionable restrictions, but opponents are still opposed. There is strong opposition from progressive groups.
Favored by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry after the November passage of an initiative raising the minimum wage, which made initiative law changes its top legislative priority and dispatched lawyers and lobbyists to the Capitol to push the measures.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the second law pushed by the AZ Chamber of Commerce, the state's top business group. Together, these laws create a major tightening of laws overseeing citizen initiatives. It will take effect this summer. (AZ Constitution requires 90 days delay to allow for referendum petition action.)
Called "Strict Compliance" on Initiatives this bill replaced another in an Arizona Legislature legal maneuver called "Strike Everything"( In May, AZLEG web site still listed this as a "gun bill," but it actually is now a ball to thwart citizen initiatives). This bill requires signatures to be thrown out for a wide range of technical, non-substantive, issues such as the exact with of the margins on the signature sheets, if the address omits the "avenue" or "drive" whereas the voter address on official records has "avenue" or "drive" as part of the address, of if the middle initial on the signature sheet is different than the one on the voter rolls, and a host of other technical issues. The entire signature sheet is thrown out, not just the one name.
This bill has already been brought to court. The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the "substantial compliance" standard reflects Arizona's respect for direct democracy and our state Constitution. HB 2244's attempt to shift to a "strict compliance" standard may be unconstitutional. "Strict compliance" sets a higher standard for reviewing any legal challenges to future citizen initiatives. Lawmakers who supported House Bill 2244 said since initiatives create law through the ballot, noting it's important the process is rigorous and strictly follows the law. Gov. Ducey approved a bill that makes it easier to keep citizen initiatives off the ballot by tightening the legal standard proponents must meet. He said in a statement that voter-approved laws allow substantial and permanent changes to state law.
A coalition of advocacy groups are also running two ballot initiatives to stop the erosion of the ability of citizens to overturn or initiate legislation. On the other hand, some progressive groups say that it is time to quit expecting citizen initiatives to "clean up" the mess the Legislature is making of the initiative process, and time to elect more moderate legislators. A Referendum takes 75,321 signatures to put a yes or no vote on the bill onto the next general election ballot. It takes 225,963 signatures to put a constitutional change on the ballot.
A Citizens Committee, led by Mike Shipley and Kim Ruff of the AZ Libertarian Party, tackles Citizen Initiative Limiting Measures. They must collect 75,321 valid voter signatures for a referendum to put the laws on the Nov. 2018 ballot, half as much as for a initiative -- but the campaign gets only 90 days to do it.
AZ Central My Turn by Mike Shipley to Save Ballot Initiatives
Read the Referendum Petition at the AZ Sec. of State
VOTERS OF ARIZONA, REPEAL HB 2404 & 2244 A Citizens Committee, led by Former Attorney General Grant Woods (R) and former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, tackle Citizen Initiative Limiting Measures. They must collect 75,321 valid voter signatures for a referendum to put the laws on the Nov. 2018 ballot, half as much as for a initiative -- but the campaign gets only 90 days to do it.
2016 VOTER GUIDES
AUG. 10, 2016 - MARIJUANA INITIATIVE CLEARS HURDLE TO THE BALLOT
SELECTED BY CITIZENS' INITIATIVE REVIEW
CITIZENS INITIATIVE REVIEW REPORT ON PROP 205
Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR,) funded by Arizona Clean Elections Commission and coordinated by the Morrison Institute at ASU, selected the Marijuana Ballot Proposition for study by a wide panel of voters and experts, both pro and con. This review is scheduled for Aug. 11 through 14. While CIR makes no recommendation, their report provides voters with a comprehensive look at the proposition.
MORE INFO AVAILABLE MORRISON INSTITUTE ASU
Morrison Institute on Citizens' Initiative Review of Marijuana Propositions 2016