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) and HB2244 changes the citizen's initiative compliance standard from "substantial compliance" to "strict compliance" with the requirements for putting initiatives on the ballot.
More than a dozen AzPHA members circulated petitions for a non-partisan political committee called The Voters of Arizona that soiught to challenging these new limits on voter initiatives. Their goal had been to collect 75,000 signatures by this week 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.
Sadly, they recently canceled their Referendum effort to focus on a lawsuit- and they will not be using the signatures that team AzPHA gathered. A Superior Court judge yesterday ruled that the court will not take action to stop implementation, but perhaps the case will be appealed.
Thank you team AzPHA for your participation in the signature gathering effort. Sorry that our effort was in vain.