The Arizona Republic does not like citizens initiatives or democracy


I warned you about this bill earlier this month: SCR 1003 (.pdf) would refer a legislative ballot measure to the ballot that requires “the reauthorization of statewide initiative and referendum measures that create funds for public monies, dedicate public monies to a specific purpose or otherwise effect state General Fund (GF) revenues or expenditures.”

Note that this reauthorizaton is not for all citizens initiative and referendum measures, just the ones the legislature does not like — the ones that require the legislature to spend money on priorities decided by the voters, like heath care and education. This is the teabaggers’ “I hate the Voter Protection Act” (Prop. 105 -1998) measure to undermine Prop. 105. The reauthorization applies retroactively to all specified statewide initiative and referendum measures approved on or after November 3, 1998.

The teabaggers want the opportunity to revisit and to reverse the laws that the citizens of Arizona enacted as a super-legislature exercising the powers reserved to the citizens under the Arizona Constitution and exercising their constitutional right to citizen initiative and referendum. This reauthorization provision would give opponents a second bite at the apple after seven (7) years. It would invite a perpetual campaign that seeks to undermine the legitimacy of laws enacted by the voters. The teabaggers are demonstrating their utter disdain for your constitutional rights and for democracy.

This Proposed constitutional amendment is a Trojan Horse attack on the AIRC as well.

So naturally the “editorial board” of The Arizona Republic is all for this bill. You almost have to admire their efforts to spin this bill (I said almost). Voters should be able to fix errors:

The Arizona Legislature has a long tradition of enacting bills that ought to be stamped, “solutions in search of problems.” They have no real-world reason for being.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 1003 is not one of those. There are serious problems with voter-approved initiatives on the books today, and, despite some faults, SCR 1003 represents an honest stab at addressing them.

For all its many attributes, Arizona’s constitutional right to direct democracy via the ballot can create long-term fiscal problems for the state.

Funding sources supposedly guaranteed by the promoters of a ballot initiative can prove inadequate, for example.

In 2000, Proposition 204 expanding the state’s health-care coverage for Arizona’s working poor was passed easily by voters. But the funding source that supporters vowed would cover the cost of the expansion — tobacco-tax revenues — came up woefully short, throwing a substantial new burden onto the shoulders of taxpayers.

Often, too, unanticipated consequences caused by elements of a voter-approved initiative may render a successful ballot measure more burden than benefit to citizens, on balance. And circumstances simply can change over time.

It is not unreasonable to conclude that complex initiatives should be reviewed periodically by voters to determine whether the impact of the initiative — or even the preferences of voters — has changed.

Proposed by Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, SCR 1003 would amend the Arizona constitution to allow voters to reconsider every eight years their support for voter-approved ballot measures that spend or collect public funds.

A 1998 amendment to the state constitution forbids the Legislature from tinkering with such ballot measures without the support of a supermajority of lawmakers. That has proved almost completely insurmountable.

So, too, have efforts by the Legislature to send amendments of individual ballot initiatives back to voters, who invariably reject the lawmakers’ proposals as wicked conspiracies — a not-unreasonable reaction, as many ballot initiatives arise out of voter frustrations with an unresponsive Legislature.

In short, the citizens of Arizona cannot be trusted with democracy and you are all just stupid, so there! (as compared to the people we elect to the state legislature?)

Voters passed these initiatives. It is not unreasonable that voters ought to be allowed to review and even reconsider their handiwork. We reject the assertion that special interests will overwhelm this process.

First of all, voters already can amend and “reconsider their handiwork” through initiative and referendum. The fact that voters have chosen not to do so reflects the voter’s policy choice that these matters are settled law. If the “editorial board’ of the Arizona Republic in its ivory tower does not like it, well stuff it! (You can be sure that the Arizona Republic and its “Kochtopus” partners would love to re-litigate these voter initiatives every few years).

Secondly, how disingenuous to argue that “We reject the assertion that special interests will overwhelm this process.” Our elections are being overwhelmed by the influence of special interest money, and in the case of “Kochtopus” organizations like the Goldwater Institute and Americans For Prosperity, they have a complicit partner at the Arizona Republic to parrot their message and carry water for them.

I mean, hell, why don’t we just let Robert Robb and his friends at the Goldwater Institute and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce make all of our public policy decisions for us and just do away with elected government and constitutional democracy? That would make the elitists at the Arizona Republic so much happier.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.