107 years ago Arizona's founders protected ordinary voters with a state constitution that guaranteed AZ residents the power of referendum, recall and initiatives.
Many of the bold moves to improve public health policy have come via citizens initiatives. A few examples are:
- The Smoke Free Arizona Act;
- The TRUST Commission for tobacco education and prevention;
- First Things First;
- Proposition 204 (from 2000) which extended Medicaid eligibility to 100% of federal poverty
This legislative session, Arizona's legislative and executive branches passed and signed two bills (HB2244 and HB2404) that will impair our ability to use voter initiatives to improve public health in the future.
- HB 2404 prevents signature gatherers from getting paid by the signature (for voter initiatives), making it more difficult to provide the work incentive needed for gatherers to be efficient. This will be a barrier to getting the large number of signatures needed to put citizens initiatives on the ballot in the future.
- HB2244 changes the citizen's initiative compliance standard from "substantial compliance" to "strict compliance" with the requirements for putting initiatives on the ballot. This new law will make it easier to reject petitions if there are any errors on the document.
Fortunately, a new non-partisan political committee called The Voters of Arizona www.votersofarizona.com is challenging these new limits on voter initiatives. Their goal is to collect 75,000 signatures by August 12 in an effort to keep these new laws on hold (called a referendum) until the Arizona voters have an opportunity to weigh in during the November 2018 election.
As an ordinary Arizona citizen, you can help preserve the current voter initiative process. To learn more about the referendum effort or to collect signatures visit www.votersofarizona.com
If you'd like to help gather signatures for this important effort you can click here.
“This is part of what Arizona is supposed to be about, what we always have been about. The people serve as a check on the government and in particular, the Legislature. It’s pretty clear to me that this Legislature is doing what it can to try to take that power away from the public so we're not going to let them get by with it."
- Grant Woods, Co-Chair, Voters of Arizona