Arizona Capitol Times

The referendum drive against an elections bill passed by the Legislature in June will have a tough standard to meet if it goes to court.

Referendums in Arizona are subject to a judicial standard known as strict compliance, which requires absolute adherence to the letter of the law. Initiatives and recalls, on the other hand, have historically been held to a standard called substantial compliance, which allows more leeway for technical errors.

Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said the higher standard has little effect on the examination of signatures by her office. The county generally uses a high standard when it conducts its analysis of signatures for initiatives, referendums and recalls alike.

A proposal by House Speaker Andy Tobin may give Republicans one last chance to rid themselves of congressional and legislative maps they’ve fought so hard to eliminate. The Paulden Republican wants a November ballot measure that would overhaul the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

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A small grassroots organization seeking to put Arizona’s strict new illegal immigration law on the ballot is optimistic but faces the daunting task of collecting about 7,500 signatures a day by July 1. The organization, Compassion for All, must collect 153,365 valid signatures in less than a month to qualify for the November ballot. Organizers took out petitions for their ballot initiative on May 24, a month after Gov. Jan Brewer signed S1070.

The House on March 23 gave preliminary approval to a trio of measures that would ask voters to lengthen legislative terms, temporarily suspend protections of some spending and give lawmakers control of billions of dollars of federal money. The push for longer legislative terms would make for more effective legislators, said Rep. Andy Tobin, a Republican from Paulden and the sponsor of HCR2017. The measure would change legislative terms from two years to four years, beginning with those lawmakers taking the oath of office in January 2011.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 to require a dedicated funding stream for voter-approved programs. Now lawmakers want the same requirement at the municipal level. The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved SCR1031, which will ask voters in November to extend the dedicated-revenue requirement to political subdivisions of the state. It also would allow a political subdivision to reduce spending if the identified revenue source for a voter-approved program is insufficient.

Gov. Jan Brewer and legislative leaders have reached an agreement to push ahead with a special session on Dec. 17, said Senate Majority Leader Steve Pierce. The plan is to hold a one-day special session. The scope will include the sales tax referral, additional cuts and potentially easing restrictions under Proposition 105, the initiative that limits the ability of lawmakers to amend voter-approved spending.

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The push for legalized medical marijuana use in Arizona has gone from corporate to personal, now that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project has designated a Tucson woman suffering from multiple sclerosis to head its 2010 ballot initiative committee. The committee’s Nov. 23 filing with the Secretary of State’s Office named Diane Manchester as the committee’s official chairman. She replaced Joe Uhas, a director of the Phoenix-based office of advertising consultant Riester.

The next state general election will not occur until November, but backers of a ballot proposal to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Arizona claim to be well on their way to qualifying the measure for the 2010 ballot. Andrew Myers, a manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, said the campaign so far has collected approximately 125,000 voter signatures from 450 independently contracted collectors.

The Arizona legislature violated the 1998 Voter Protection Act when it took $7million worth of tobacco tax interest out of a fund for education and put it in the general fund. The Voter Protection Act limits the legislature’s power to alter voter approved laws. The Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Fund was created by a 2006 ballot initiative and therefore subject to the protection of the Voter Protection Act.


After failing to qualify an initiative for the 2008 ballot, backers of a measure that aims to stop affirmative action in government hiring and contracting decisions are setting their sights on the 2010 election cycle.

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Medical marijuana advocates have filed notice with the Arizona Secretary of State that they intend to gather signatures in an effort to place an initiative on the 2010 ballot to ask voters to legalize smoking pot by patients who get a recommendation from a doctor.

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