Arizona’s legislature adjourned for the year last night without passing any more anti-initiative bills. Yesterday I told you about a constitutional amendment to reduce the time to collect signatures by two months that will appear on the state’s November ballot.

Not a single member in either house of the Arizona legislature voted against sending a constitutional amendment to the November 2010 ballot that would reduce the amount of time citizens have to collect signatures on a petition. It will now be up to Arizona voters to decide if they want to give up 60 of the 620 days they have to collect signatures on a petition.

A former Phoenix City Council candidate took the first steps Monday to have the fate of the new law aimed at illegal immigrants decided by Arizona voters. Jon Garrido picked up the necessary paperwork at the Secretary of State’s office to refer the measure, just signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, to the ballot. Garrido needs just 76,684 valid signatures by late July — the exact date is currently in flux — to put the question to voters.

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Hospitals want all Arizona voters to approve higher taxes on the richest of them to help pay for health care for the needy. An initiative drive to be launched this week proposes a surcharge on income greater than $150,000 a year for individuals and $300,000 for couples. Right now the top state income tax rate is 4.54 percent. So someone with an adjusted taxable gross income of $225,000 owes the state $10,215.

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The House voted 37-18 Wednesday to put a constitutional right to hunt and fish in the Arizona Constitution. Backers of HCR 2008 say the measure is designed to deter special interests from proposing ballot measures which would limit the ability to hunt, either by restricting the methods available or by deciding that certain species should not be hunted. That happened more than a decade ago when an initiative successfully banned the use of steel-jawed leghold traps.

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Proposed legislation that would tax medical marijuana - if voters legalize it this fall - narrowly passed the state Senate on Thursday thanks to a split among Republicans. The bill passed with a vote of 17-12 after five Republicans, including Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria, supported it. It now goes to the House for consideration.

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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.

What happened to a Wal-Mart worker in Michigan who was fired for testing positive for marijuana probably could not happen in Arizona if voters approve a ballot measure in November. The initiative would allow doctors to essentially prescribe marijuana to patients who are suffering from any one of a specific set of conditions. It also would allow creation of a network of nonprofit shops that would sell marijuana to those who have those prescriptions and let those not within 25 miles of a shop to grow their own.

A U.S. Supreme Court case that will be argued next month could end up restricting the public’s right to see who has signed initiative petitions in Arizona and other states. The case comes out of Washington state, where supporters of an effort to overturn a law permitting domestic partnerships sued the state to keep the names on petitions secret. As in Arizona, a certain number of valid petition signatures is required to put issues on the ballot.

A poll released by supporters of the one-cent sales-tax proposal before Arizona voters shows a majority support it. With the May 18th election just 64 days away, nearly 6 in 10 likely special election voters say they will vote yes on Proposition 100, a three-year, one-cent increase to Arizona’s sales tax meant to protect education, public safety and health care. A telephone survey of 506 likely voters, conducted in late February by veteran polling group Moore Information, used the exact ballot language voters will encounter in the upcoming election.

A proposed ballot measure to eliminate a cash-flush early childhood program approved by voters three years ago is the last major piece of a Republican budget-balancing plan awaiting action by the Legislature. The legislation would permanently repeal the First Things First program and transfer its funding from a tobacco tax increase into the general fund to use for unspecified “health and human services for children.”

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Arizona voters may be asked a second time this year to raise their own taxes, this time to keep the state from reducing the number of people who get free health care. The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association is working with consultants on an initiative it hopes will make it to the ballot in November. It would raise money to stop the state from cutting more than 310,000 people from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program.

he Arizona Senate wants to ask voters whether lawmakers should continue to be limited to eight years in office. The Senate voted on Monday to put the issue on the November ballot. Scottsdale Republican Sen. Carolyn Allen says she supported the original ballot measure creating term limits in 1992. But she says she’s now convinced it was a mistake.

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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.

The Arizona Legislature is a big step closer to getting a sales tax increase on the state ballot. The Senate voted 16-12 in favor of a referendum that would ask voters for one percentage-point increase to the state’s 5.6 percent sales tax. The move is aimed at helping close massive budget deficits, and proceeds would go toward education and public health care spending.

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