A new drive has been launched to reduce the penalty for having small amounts of marijuana to a fine. Phoenix resident Dennis Bohlke filed the necessary legal papers to begin collecting signatures to put the measure on the 2010 ballot. The maximum penalty for those convicted of having four ounces of marijuana or less would be $300.

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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.

On September 22, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the city of Phoenix, in Jones v Paniagua. The issue is how many signatures are needed for a city referendum. The law says the number of signatures must be 10% of the vote cast in the last city election. But the uncertainty involved knowing which was the last city election, the 2007 first round (which had a high turnout and included the Mayor’s race), or the 2007 second round (which just had contests in some city council districts, plus a citywide ballot measure), which had a far lower turnout.

At an impasse with lawmakers over a sales tax referral, Gov. Jan Brewer is now looking to supporters to take the issue to the ballot themselves ”” even if that delays the levy more than a year. Brewer said Friday she understands that legislators, having wrestled with the budget now for months, are in little mood to come back again in yet another a special session this year to try to once again craft a plan that would boost state revenues to make up some of the gap between spending and income.

No courtroom dispute on the validity of the Taxpayer Protection Initiative appears imminent - at least not before the November general election. By opting not to take action Monday on the initiative’s place on the ballot, the Prescott City Council allowed its earlier decision on the measure to stand.

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Local taxpayer watchdog group the Citizens Tax Committee has taken a stand in favor of the Taxpayer Protection Initiative that will be on Prescott’s general election ballot on Nov. 3. A press release from the Taxpayer Initiative Committee reported that the CTC - longtime advocates of conservative fiscal principles - recently endorsed the initiative that would require a vote of Prescott citizens on any city project that exceeds $40 million.

On April 16, 2009, a group of voters decided to put the Taxpayer Protection Initative on the ballot. John Danforth is the treasurer of the “Taxpayer Protection Committee in Favor of Petition #IN09-01”, and he explained the initiative this way, “The Taxpayer Protection Initiative will require voter approval of most large projects. Where we’re defining large as $40 million or more undertaken by the City of Prescott. There are exemptions for public health type expenditures, which would be truly mammoth, but they are exempted as well as a few other specific situations.”

The mystery surrounding the unknown person or group behind phone polls opposing the Taxpayer Protection Committee’s initiative continues. Through late Monday afternoon, Prescott City Clerk Elizabeth Burke said she hadn’t received any paperwork from a committee to formally oppose the initiative. “No one has filed anything with me, so it’s kind of the same place it was before,” she said. The initiative, which is on the Nov. 1 ballot, would require that large city projects totaling $40 million or more must go to a vote of the people.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed sales tax hike won’t appear on the Nov. 3 ballot for voters to decide, leading officials to consider a later date for the special election. The Nov. 3 date was abandoned because the Legislature has yet to give final approval to a larger budget-balancing plan that includes the sales tax increase. Election officials say they’re running out of time to plan for the November election. “We can’t get this done in a timely way,” said Senate President Bob Burns, who has been unable to round up enough support for passage of the budget plan.

The Legislature will miss its deadline for putting Gov. Jan Brewer’s sales tax hike on the Nov. 3 ballot, but election officials are willing to cut lawmakers some slack if they can get it done within hours of the clock running out. Senate President Bob Burns said Monday afternoon that the full Senate won’t be able to take a vote on the state’s larger budget-balancing plan by the deadline at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Instead, he hopes to hold floor votes Tuesday afternoon and then send the plan to the state House for tweaks.

Gilbert residents hoping to overturn the town’s recent tax hikes and new user levy will have to wait a few days to find out what their next step will be. Tax opponents last week submitted petitions to the Gilbert Town Clerk’s office seeking to put three Town Council-approved tax issues on an upcoming ballot. But questions remain as to whether the council votes can legally be put up for public vote.


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The Navajo Nation Supreme Court has paved the way for a ballot initiative aimed at reducing the size of the tribal government and giving the tribal president a line-item veto power. The current tribal administration had argued that supporters of the initiative failed to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure, but the court determined that officials used conflicting criteria to invalidate signatures.


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Health care reform continues to dominate the national discussion. Americans are considering all their options on how to pay for the reform and exactly how to improve the system. In Arizona the voters are trying to decide for themselves on how their state will deal with this important issue. They are showing their power at the ballot box.

In his daily commentary called Common Sense, Paul Jacob writes about Arizona and states:

With a possible referendum looming over its recent decisions to increase two taxes and create a new one, the Gilbert Town Council Tuesday delayed a final vote on the town’s $734 million budget for the current fiscal year until its next meeting Aug. 11. The reason, several council members said, was because they first want to find out the outcome of an effort to put the three tax issues on the November ballot.

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The deadline for three petitions to put two tax increases and a new levy in Gilbert on the November ballot is Friday , and former Maricopa County Assessor Kevin Ross is gearing up for what will most likely become a legal battle. Ross, a 16-year Gilbert resident and the county’s assessor from 1997 to 2004, took out the petitions on July 2, just two days after Gilbert Town Council approved the tax measures in a 5-2 vote as part of its attempt to close a $15 million deficit in the current budget.