Category Archives: Ballot Referendas and Initiatives

Arizona Supreme Court to hear appeal of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan

Earlier this year, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

The “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which is litigating the case on behalf of our lawless Tea-Publican legislators who are parties to this lawsuit, of course appealed the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan goes to Arizona Supreme Court.

The Arizona Supreme Court has now said it will hear the appeal. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court to decide on Medicaid tax:

The state’s high court agreed Tuesday to decide whether a levy that funds Arizona’s expanded Medicaid program was illegally enacted.

Without comment, the justices said they want to give foes of the levy — current and former state lawmakers — a chance to make the case that it really is a tax.

What the court decides will be significant, as it takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to raise taxes [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)]. . And since the measure did not get that margin, a finding that the levy actually is a tax would mean the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, could no longer collect it.

More significant, without the approximately $265 million being collected each year, the state could no longer afford to provide care to about 400,000 Arizonans who were added to the plan as a result of the 2013 action.

Tuesday’s action does not mean the justices have already reached a conclusion. But just the decision to review lower court ruling upholding the legality of the levy places it in potential jeopardy.

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Proposition 305: Save Our Schools Arizona referendum of school ‘vouchers on steroids’ qualifies for the 2018 ballot

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Voucher expansion referendum makes ballot:

With validation results in from Maricopa County, “it’s a mathematical guarantee” that the referendum on school voucher expansion in Arizona will make it to the 2018 ballot, Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a tweet Tuesday.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has validated 86.6 percent of a sample of signatures collected by Save Our Schools Arizona, putting the school voucher referendum on track to reach the 2018 ballot.

The majority of the roughly 108,000 signatures deemed valid by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office were gathered in Maricopa County, and now, SOS Arizona’s statewide validation average sits at about 87 percent overall.

That gives SOS Arizona a comfortable margin of error; with an 86 percent validation rate, the referendum would have nearly 93,000 valid signatures, about 18,000 more than it needs to make it to the ballot.

Elections Director Eric Spencer reiterated what Reagan announced via social media, adding that barring the pending legal challenges SOS Arizona still faces, the outlook for the referendum is “sunny.” He anticipated a notice of certification would be sent to the governor’s office on Sept. 11, the deadline for the remaining three counties to report results.

But if those counties were to report tomorrow, Spencer said, the Secretary of State’s Office is ready to certify what will be billed as Proposition 305 on the 2018 general election ballot.

Results from Cochise, Yavapai and Yuma counties are still pending.

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‘Kochtopus’ funded lawsuit to challenge school ‘vouchers on steroids’ referendum

Last week the Save Our Schools referendum for school “vouchers on steroids” bill, SB 1431, survived its first hurdle with the Secretary of State’s office. Referendum on school voucher survives first hurdle:

The referendum to kill expansion of Arizona’s school voucher program survived its first hurdle despite efforts of the lawyers who don’t want it on the ballot.

State Elections Director Eric Spencer concluded there are more than enough signatures on petitions calling for a 2018 vote, even after he disqualified some of them. That sets the stage for county recorders to do their own verification.

Spencer rejected efforts by attorneys of pro-voucher supporters to strike even more names from the more than 110,000 submitted to call for the referendum on the new law.

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In doing the initial screening, Spencer’s office discarded 216 petition sheets because the required sworn affidavit of the circulator was unsigned or otherwise incomplete. Others were disqualified over problems like not having the required notary seal or the failure to have attached a copy of the measure being referred.

And more than 1,900 individual signatures were disqualified for things like missing information.

But Spencer said some of the complaints by those who want an expanded voucher program have no basis.

For example, attorney Kory Langhofer argued that Spencer should not count anyone whose signature looks like their printed name. Langhofer, who represents Americans For Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch Brothers [and the American Federation for Children] who support vouchers, argued that a signature must be significantly distinguishable from a printed name to be considered a true “signature.”

Spencer rejected that argument.

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Now comes the attempt to prevent the Save Our Schools Arizona referendum from qualifying for the ballot

I mentioned in a comment that last week the right-wing Public Integrity Alliance was claiming that the Glendale Elementary School District personnel and Save Our Schools Arizona violated rules regarding the use of public resources to influence political campaigns in their referendum campaign against the “vouchers on steroids” bill passed by our Tea-Publican legislature, and signed into law by our Koch-bot Governor Ducey. Non-profit alleges campaign volunteers, school district violated election laws.

Now the big guns of the right-wing are rolling out their attacks to try to prevent the referendum from qualifying for the ballot. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Voucher expansion on hold as effort to kill campaign begins:

School voucher expansion legislation is on hold after Save Our Schools Arizona delivered, by the group’s count, 111,540 signatures today to refer the law to the 2018 general election ballot.

A yellow school bus decked out in SOS Arizona banners carried the signatures to a loading deck below the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. Volunteers in red SOS Arizona shirts loaded wagons full of petition boxes, and children dressed as professionals carted them to the building.

Beyond the spectacle, spokeswoman Dawn Penich-Thacker (above) was clear that the effort to quash the expansion of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program was far from over.

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Court says legal challenge to Chambers’ new restrictions on your constitutional right to citizens initiatives is not yet ripe

It appears that the Arizona Chambers of Commerce have succeeded in limiting your constitutional right to pass laws by citizens initiatives by having their lickspittle Tea-Publican servants in the Arizona legislature enact their package of bills, which were dutifully signed by our Koch-bot Governor Ducey.

The petition drive for a referendum on these new restrictions collapsed a few weeks ago due to lack of finances.  The groups behind the referendum put all their eggs in one basket, seeking a court ruling blocking the new restrictions.

On Tuesday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens refused to block a new state law making it easier for opponents to challenge citizen initiatives, but she sidestepped the decision on whether the law violates the state Constitution on the grounds of the “ripeness” doctrine.

The Ariona Capitol Times reports, Judge won’t block new law Arizona targeting initiatives:

The ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens said opponents of the law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature haven’t yet been harmed because there are no pending initiatives that would be affected by the new standard.

“The Court finds this matter is not ripe for judicial review,” Stephens wrote. “Plaintiffs believe House Bill 2244 will affect their future initiative efforts but this Court finds that expectation is not sufficient to make this matter ripe for judicial review of the constitutionality of HB 2244.”

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The House Always Wins

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I’m not a gambler, but I do know that Sin City isn’t prospering because those who visit its casinos win more than they lose. Rather, the casinos of Las Vegas and those all around the world, prosper because in the end, the house always wins.

That truism comes to mind when I think about our Arizona Legislature and their non-stop assault on the state’s public education system. Yes, it is sad that on the day Save Our Schools Arizona turned in over 111,000 petition signatures for a voucher expansion veto referendum to our Secretary of State, I’m thinking about how the battle has just begun. Not only that, but I’m worrying the battle is likely to not end in the people’s favor because just like the casinos, the game is rigged against us.

Senator Debbie Lesko, the sponsor of SB 1431, (full expansion of vouchers) is no doubt already planning repeal of the law should the referendum actually qualify for the ballot. Why would she do that? Well, for one, because when Arizonans are given the opportunity to vote on public education, they usually support it. For another, if the repeal of the voucher expansion actually gets on the ballot in November 2018, she and her GOP colleagues know that the issue will bring public education supporting voters out to the polls. We know which party the majority of those voters are likely to come from, right? Continue reading