statewide initiatives; periodic reauthorization
Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: SCR1031
Sponsor: Antenori, Driggs, Smith et al.
Legislative Session: 2012 Legislative Session
Celebrate Arizonas Centennial!
Say no to undermining Constitutional Right to Citizen Initiatives
Please Vote No on SCR1031!
SCR1031 statewide initiatives; periodic reauthorization (Antenori, Driggs, Smith et al.) refers to the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that requires any initiative that includes an allocation of public dollars of any amount or that affects the state general fund in any way to be referred back to the ballot for reauthorization every eight years. This is a ridiculous measure that, if passed, will result in crowded ballots and make it difficult to ever make progress as we spend all of our time just trying to keep what has been put in place. It is retroactive to 1998.
No action is needed right now as it is dead.
To read the bill text, click on SCR1031.
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 to fund parks and wildlife programs.)
Over the last ten years numerous bills have been introduced that would severely limit the citizens initiative process in Arizona, however. 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 back, and a proposal intended to make it impossible to do wildlife initiatives. They have also rejected efforts to allow the Legislature to sweep voter-protected funds, such as the Land Conservation Vote (Prop. 301 was rejected 74-26%.)
The authors of the Arizona Constitution thought that the initiative and referendum process provided citizens with both a check on the legislative branch and on the then widespread corruption of big business and monopolies. They thought it was critical that the citizens have an equal opportunity to create laws directly via the initiative process.
The Voter Protection Act was enacted in 1998 after years of the legislature diverting dollars and undermining citizen initiatives. You only need to look at measures that do not have this protection to see what can happen.
In 1990, Arizona Voters overwhelmingly approved the Arizona Heritage Fund, a ballot measure that allocated $10 million in lottery dollars to Game and Fish for wildlife programs and $10 million to State Parks for parks and natural areas. In January 1991, the legislature proposed taking these dollars and did so nearly every session after that. Unfortunately, in 2010, the Arizona Legislature and Governor were successful in taking the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund and went further to actually eliminate it.
Rather than seeking to address any real issues with the initiative and referendum process and help to ensure enforcement of existing laws, the Arizona Legislature consistently tries to undermine citizen initiatives, as it is doing with this measure. While it is likely the voters will reject this kind of limitation on their constitutional right to the initiative, we ask that you refrain from referring it and instead work to address the real problems our state faces.