A proposed initiative to raise pay for some health care workers and rein in the practice known as surprise billing by medical companies cannot appear on the ballot in November. Health care initiative thrown off ballot because of misleading language, judge rules:

A proposed initiative to raise pay for some health care workers and rein in the practice known as surprise billing by medical companies cannot appear on the ballot in November, a judge said on Friday.

Advertisement

Superior Court Judge Pamela Gates ruled that the short summary of the measure printed on petitions and signed by voters was misleading.

And she tossed out a pile of signatures filed by supporters of the measure after the signatures either were deemed invalid or the volunteers and workers who turned in the petitions did not appear for court hearings to answer questions about their filings as part of a lawsuit over the initiative.

That left supporters of the Stop Surprise Billing and Protect Patients Act short of the number of signatures required to get the measure on the ballot.

“We are disappointed by the ruling,” said Rodd McLeod, a spokesperson for the Healthcare Rising Arizona campaign. “Arizonans continue to suffer with millions of dollars of surprise medical bills and remain vulnerable to a lawsuit that could eliminate pre-existing condition protections. That is why we plan to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.”

Another ballot measure that has survived a legal challenge to the 100 word description of the measure last week nevertheless may not appear on the ballot because the Secretary of State says the petition signature verification is coming up short of the required number of signatures. Second Chances measure to change sentencing laws tossed off Arizona ballot:

Supporters of an initiative to overhaul Arizona’s criminal sentencing laws did not file enough valid petition signatures to earn the measure a spot on the general election ballot, the Secretary of State’s Office said Friday.

County election officials across the state reviewed a random sample of petitions from the backers of the Second Chances, Rehabilitation and Public Safety Act but deemed nearly 36% invalid.

At that rate, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wrote in a letter to proponents, the measure is estimated to fall short of the 237,645 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Proponents believe election officials disqualified valid petition signatures, however. They are challenging the secretary of state’s decision, campaign spokeswoman Stacy Pearson said.

[T]he Secretary of State’s Office had sent a random sample of about 16,000 petition signatures to county election officials as part of its usual verification process.

Proponents said they submitted 397,291 signatures to get the measure on the ballot — far more than required.

Under the state’s process, county recorders needed to determine that nearly 12,000 of those signatures were valid.

Officials said only 10,849 signatures were valid, however.

At that rate, the Secretary of State’s Office estimates that only 216,957 signatures are valid, several thousand shy of the minimum.

The verification process involves not only checking the names and information of signers against voter registration records but also ensuring that the signatures on the petition match the signatures on file.

The campaign has raised concerns that some signatures may have been subjectively discarded, Pearson said.

The measure is one of four proposed for the November ballot. Other proposed initiatives would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, raise pay for health care workers (see above) and increase taxes on higher income tax filers to boost funding for public schools.

These measures are all on appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. Depending on how the court rules, it is possible there may be no citizens initiatives on the ballot this year. And that is because Republicans have written the rules in such a way as to make citizens initiatives incredibly difficult to survive all the technical obstacles they have set up to prevent citizens from writing their own laws, as the Arizona Constitution gives you the right to do.




Advertisement