Conservative lawmakers from 25 states have introduced legislation aimed at preempting any federal bill requiring an individual to buy health insurance. Republican state representatives from Pennsylvania, Matthew Baker and Curt Schroder, are the latest politicians to introduce legislation based on a model bill drafted by the conservative group, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Arizona’s residency requirement for petition circulators was struck down by a U.S. District judge today. This is great news. The District judge shot down the state’s claim that the restriction was simply to prevent fraud, saying:

Arizona cannot legally bar residents of other states from serving as petition circulators to help a political party get on the ballot, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton rejected arguments by Secretary of State Ken Bennett that limiting the right to circulate these petitions to Arizona residents is necessary to prevent fraud.

Read the story from the Arizona Business Gazette

In a surprise move, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) took a step to save the freeway speed camera program imposed by her predecessor, Janet Napolitano (D), the current US Secretary of Homeland Security. On Friday, Brewer proposed a Fiscal Year 2011 budget that cut spending by $1.1 billion, reduced the state’s workforce by ten percent and raised taxes by $1 billion to address massive deficits brought on by overspending during the economic downturn.

Organized support is taking shape for a Scottsdale ballot measure that would increase the city’s bed tax in hopes of boosting the struggling tourism sector. The Jobs for Scottsdale in Support of Proposition 200 committee launched its campaign Wednesday at Chaparral Suites in Scottsdale. It urges voters to vote yes on Prop. 200 during a special election on March 9, when they will be asked to support increasing Scottsdale’s bed tax by 2 percentage points.

People around the country have been fighting against speed and red light cameras ever since they started dotting intersections and roadsides in the 1990’s. In many states this policy debate is moving to the ballot, where initiative and referendum rights are able to give voters a voice on an issue that is often decided by unelected law enforcement and highway officials.

As initiative proponents collect signatures for next year’s ballot, and the Citizens in Charge Foundation staff continues to dig out from last weekend’s snow storm, petition rights activists around the country are getting ready for the restrictions on the initiative and referendum process that will be proposed in upcoming state legislative sessions.

Arizona Senate President Bob Burns says a mistake about how long it takes to get a referral on a special election ballot means lawmakers won’t consider putting a tax increase on the March ballot when they meet on Thursday. Burns told The Associated Press on Wednesday that there was a mix-up on what time is needed to authorize and prepare for a special election. He says ballot measures are now “off the table” for special session action.

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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.

Read the story from the Arizona Capitol Times

The Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board will decide Wednesday night whether to re-send a 10 percent budget override to the ballot in March. “When we heard from the state’s attorney general Friday night that we could bring back the measure in its entirety, we decided to move forth with it,” said Jeff Kleck, MUSD superintendent.

Read the story from InMaricopa

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 City Council is considering a charter amendment that would force future ballot initiatives that mandate additional spending to provide a funding source to cover the cost. The move comes in the wake of Proposition 200, which would have required spending millions of dollars to hire more police officers and firefighters at a time when the city is cutting services because it is short of money.

Read the story from the Arizona Daily Star

Accusing the federal government of hampering local attempts to combat illegal immigration,state Sen. Russell Pearce, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and some of Arizona’s most hawkish public figures on border security pledged on Wednesday to redouble their efforts with new legislation and a citizens initiative. Critics, meanwhile, said the anti-migrant push figures to only complicate matters for area businesses already hammered by the recession.

There’s a huge X factor in this year’s city election: Pima County’s permanent early-voter list. In previous city elections, voters had to ask for a mail-in ballot. In this election, more than 62,000 early ballots went out automatically to city voters when early voting started on Oct. 8. There are roughly 224,000 registered voters in Tucson. Whether all those voters will care enough to mail ballots back in remains to be seen, but the numbers we got from Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez suggest that most Tucsonans aren’t in a rush to cast a ballot.

Republican Steve Kozachik, who is seeking to unseat Democrat Nina Trasoff in Ward 6, has informed us via e-mail that he plans to continue to support the Public Safety First initiative on the Nov. 3 ballot. Kozachik had said he was reconsidering his support, given that the city could be facing a $46 million shortfall next year. Kozachik says he doesn’t trust the budget numbers released by City Manager Mike Letcher.

Read the story from the Tucson Weekly