Arizona Legislator vs. Arizona Referendum

Mon, Jan 20 2014 by Neal Hobson

As the sun rises on the 2014 session of the Arizona Legislature, politicians seem to be scurrying about. Citizens in Charge strongly opposed controversial House Bill 2305, a grab-bag elections bill stuffed with partisan power-plays that passed in the waning hours of last year’s legislative session, and we endorsed the petition signed by more than 110,000 unhappy voters to put that misguided measure to a voter referendum this November.

Apparently, we’re not alone in wanting to see HB 2305 repealed. So now, too, does its author, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilberts). Farnsworth just introduced House Bill 2196, which simply and completely erases last year’s reckless, anti-democratic, late-night legislative swerve known as HB 2305.

It would be refreshing if Rep. Farnsworth had changed his mind, come to his senses, learned the error in his ways. Not a chance. Instead, the state representative seems intent on passing his new legislation only to void the voter referendum this November that will likely crush his legislation.

Moreover, Farnsworth admitted to capitol reporters that he intends to re-enact certain parts of the law after he repeals it in total, and that he knows other legislators are considering bills to do likewise.

Robbie Sherwood, a spokesperson for the Protect Your Right To Vote Arizona Committee called Rep. Farnsworth’s latest legislation “a cynical attempt to try to get around our referendum.” He’s right.

This sort of behavior by people sworn to represent the people is yet another compelling argument for why citizens need direct democracy – initiative, referendum and recall – to hold politicians accountable.

While there were numerous sections of HB 2305 that are problematic, Citizens in Charge’s opposition is predicated on the harm it would do to the citizen initiative process. HB 2305 changes the rules for validating petition signatures from a standard of “substantial compliance” to one of “strict compliance.” This would necessitate that elections officers and judges throw out perfectly valid signatures from Arizona voters for even the most mild technical mistake.

Capitol Media Services: Lawmaker’s effort would kill voting law referendum

Citizen Blog / Oct. 28, 2013: AZ election law changes on hold as referendum qualifies

Citizen Blog / Jun. 24, 2013: Arizona politicians sneak last-minute bill through