(Update) House Tea-Publicans vote to restrict your constitutional right to make laws

The unrelenting assault on your constitutional rights by the Chamber of Commerce organizations and their lickspittle lackeys in our lawless Tea-Publican legislature continues unabated. The Chambers’ package of bills to take away your constitutional rights passed in the House on Thursday.

The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona House passes bills to restrict citizen initiatives:

In an attempt to gain control over laws proposed by citizens, [Tea-Publicans in] the House on Thursday night approved a package of bills designed to rein in the century-old initiative process enshrined in the Arizona Constitution at statehood.

Opponents say the moves would undercut the power of the people to shape laws, and run counter to the citizen initiative process, while proponents argue lawmakers need the flexibility to fix unforeseen problems that might arise from a ballot measure. The measures now move to the Senate for consideration.

Four bills affect the initiative process. Two ask the voters to review the 19-year-old Voter Protection Act that blocks the Legislature from changing voter initiatives; the other two make changes to the laws governing initiatives. They passed along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed, in a contentious session that lasted late into the night.

Even if the bills win Senate approval in the coming weeks, two would need voter approval in November 2018. Two others would go to Gov. Doug Ducey for his signature.

Still pending is a bill that would change the way signatures are gathered on citizen initiative petitions. House Concurrent Resolution 2029 won approval from a committee late Wednesday but was held up from a full vote over questions about its constitutionality.

[T]he Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, along with other business groups, worked with Republican lawmakers to seek ways to change how petitions are gathered, resulting in House Bill 2404. On Thursday, many provisions of the bill were dropped amid concerns about its constitutionality.

In its amended form, HB 2404 primarily would ban the practice of paying petition passers for each signature gathered. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, argued the move would reduce fraud because circulators wouldn’t have an incentive to boost their signature totals possibly by making up names.

Democrats saw a different motivation.

“We are telling the public: We want to make it more difficult for you to get something on the ballot,” Rep. Tony Navarrete, D-Phoenix, said as he voted “no.”

Gone from the bill are earlier provisions requiring the group promoting a citizen initiative to post a bond that could run up to $50,000; a “strict compliance” requirement that could lead to petitions being tossed if the margins on the petition pages were off from state requirements by even a few millimeters; and training requirements, among others.

In other ballot-related action on Thursday, the House:

  • Approved HCR 2002, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale. This asks voters to repeal Proposition 105, a citizen-initiated measure that voters approved in 1998 and is commonly known as the Voter Protection Act. It bars lawmakers from changing any voter-approved measure unless it advances the intent of the measure and even then, requires a three-fourths vote of the 90-member Legislature. It also bars the governor from vetoing any such measure.

Republicans argued it was time to give the voters another look at the measure. It would give them a chance to show how the measure’s strict terms sometimes handcuffs lawmakers and locks the state into inflexible policies.

You mean like Prop. 108 (1992), the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment that is the GOP’s weapon of mass destruction for fiscally irresponsible government? Why doesn’t the legislature put this destructive law which “handcuffs lawmakers and locks the state into inflexible policies” back on the ballot for review by the voters?

But Democrats refused, saying the voters have spoken and distrust any attempt by the Legislature to open up the Voter Protection Act.

  • Approved HCR 2007, also a Ugenti-Rita proposal. This measure, like HCR 2002, would go to the voters in November 2018. It would exempt citizen referenda from the provisions of the Voter Protection Act. That means if voters decided to overturn a law passed by the Legislature, lawmakers could go back and pass the same law — something the Voter Protection Act currently prohibits.
  • Approved HB 2320, a third Ugenti-Rita proposal. This would require ballots that have a citizen initiative on them to state that if an initiative is passed, the Voter Protection Act shields it from any changes. The disclosure also would be required on the official publicity pamphlet as well as any advertising and fundraising materials associated with the ballot measure. [This is a fall-back position  in the event that voters do not vote to repeal the Voter Protection Act; otherwise, it is superfluous.]

Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix, said the requirement for ads and fundraisers is ripe for a lawsuit. “Bills like this are forced political speech,” he said.

Still awaiting a House vote is Rep. Don Shooter’s HCR 2029. Shooter, R-Yuma, proposes a further change in how petition signatures are gathered. His bill would require anyone launching a petition to acquire voter signatures from each of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts to qualify for the ballot. The required number would be a percentage of people who voted for governor in the most-recent election.

Currently, the minimums are based on voters statewide, meaning they could come solely from large population centers.

Supporters, such as Shooter, say it’s needed to protect a minority of voters from being overlooked by a well-funded liberal cause. Critics say the change would make it harder to qualify a measure for the ballot because a minority of districts could block it.

“Well-funded liberal causes” in Arizona? WTF are those? The vast majority of ballot measures in recent years have come from right-wing organizations and Chamber of Commerce organizations who get their lickspittle lackeys in the Arizona legislature to refer their measures to the ballot and bypass all the time, effort and expense needed to put an initiative on the ballot.

Sen. Shooter’s bill actually is a “minority veto” provision, similar to Prop. 108, the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment, which empowers a minority to “veto” proposed legislation supported by a majority. In this case, it would only take an insufficient number of signature from one county, even if double the number of required signatures is gathered elsewhere. This is anti-demcocratic.

If lawmakers really were sincere about changing the way petition signatures are gathered, they would apply it to themselves, Doris Marie Provine of the Arizona Advocacy Network told lawmakers earlier in the week.

While Democrats bitterly fought Thursday’s initiative bills, arguing voters have already spoken, Republicans said they want to get fresh eyes on the state’s initiative process.

Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, noted he was 13 when the Voter Protection Act was approved in 1998. Voters spoke then, he said, but he didn’t get a chance.

“What about my will as a voter?” Shope said.

I’m sorry dumbass, that’s why rights guaranteed by the Constitution (as amended by the voters) are not subject to the whim of a simple legislative act to restrict or repeal those rights. The Constitution is different from simple legislative acts. Or did you not learn that in your civics class in high school when you were 13? (which was a state mandated course at the time, as I recall).

Arizonans have got to stop electing such idiots to the state legislature.

Contact your state senators and demand that they vote against the Chamber’s package of bills designed to take away your constitutional right to make laws.

The litmus test should be that anyone who votes in favor of these bills is gone in the next general election. There must be consequences, and a price must be paid.

One response to “(Update) House Tea-Publicans vote to restrict your constitutional right to make laws

  1. Still awaiting a House vote is Rep. Don Shooter’s HCR 2029. Shooter, R-Yuma, proposes a further change in how petition signatures are gathered. His bill would require anyone launching a petition to acquire voter signatures from each of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts to qualify for the ballot. The required number would be a percentage of people who voted for governor in the most-recent election.

    Huh. I seem to remember that Phoenix voters won a court case, which struck down a similar provision requiring statewide petitions to get a certain number of signatures in each county to be eligible for the ballot, on the basis that it unfairly dilutes the voters in counties / districts strongly in favor of any initiative.

    Anyone want to take betting odds that this bill, if passed, will face a similar fate? Anyone want to guess that, despite being the party of strangling government spending & never raising taxes, that the money to send to Brnovich’s office will magically appear?