funding ballot measures; reauthorization
Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: HCR2018
Sponsor: Boyer, Thorpe: Allen, et al.
Legislative Session: 2014 Legislative Session
HCR2018 funding ballot measures; reauthorization would have referred to the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that required all ballot measures that have any expenditure of state monies associated with them to be referred back to the ballot every eight years. SCR1003, a similar bill in the Senate, was defeated.
The Arizona Legislature can refer individual measures to the ballot any time it can get the necessary votes, so this measure was unnecessary. If legislators think a measure should go back to the ballot, they merely need 31 votes in the House and 16 votes in the Senate to send it there. It would make more sense to refer these measures selectively and as needed rather than having an automatic referral.
It is very difficult and costly to run a campaign for a citizen initiative. Having to do so every eight years will put up an enormous roadblock relative to this important constitutional right.
If passed, this measure would have resulted in crowded ballots and would have shifted focus to maintaining existing measures rather than to making progress on important issues and moving our state forward.
05/05/14 - It was never heard in the Senate Rules Committee, so died for the session.
No action is needed as this bill died.
Background on citizen initiative process
The Arizona Legislature is seeking to undermine citizens of this state – the people it serves – by weakening their Constitutional rights. The citizen initiative and referendum process is older than our country itself, dating back to the 1600s when, via town meetings, communities voted on ordinances and other issues. The authors of the Arizona Constitution included this process in order to provide citizens with a check on the legislative branch and on the then widespread corruption of big business and monopolies. They thought it was critical for citizens to have an equal opportunity to create laws directly via the initiative process. Unfortunately, the Arizona Legislature is working to cripple this right.
Over the last ten years, legislators have introduced numerous bills to severely limit the citizens’ initiative process in Arizona. The voters have rejected any significant measures that made the ballot, including a measure to require a two-thirds vote on wildlife measures, two proposals to move the filing date for initiatives back and thus allowing less time for signature gathering, and a proposal intended to make it impossible to affect wildlife policies via initiatives.
A ballot initiative is a proposal that citizens independently place on the ballot by circulating a voter petition. Given the historical unresponsiveness of the Arizona Legislature to the will of the voters on certain issues, many citizens have utilized the ballot initiative option to ensure that public policy reflects the voters’ values and attitudes. This process has been helpful in furthering conservation efforts, as the Legislature has consistently failed to act on important matters. (For example, the Heritage Fund was passed overwhelmingly by voters in order to fund parks and wildlife programs.)
After years of the Legislature diverting dollars and undermining citizen initiatives, the Voter Protection Act provisions in the Arizona Constitution were enacted in 1998. These provisions in the constitution help protect citizen initiatives from the whim of the Legislature.