Update on Special Action challenge to the consolidated elections bill

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Last year, Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale) sponsored HB 2826 (consolidated election dates; political subdivisions), a bill providing for the consolidation of elections in the fall of even numbered years only. The law will apply to elections in 2014 and thereafter.

The City of Tucson filed its special action for declaratory and
injunctive relief on October 10, 2013 in the Pima County Superior Court,
City of Tucson v. State of Arizona et al. (Case No.
C20126272). The City of Phoenix Intervened as a
plaintiff. The case is assigned to Judge James E. Marner.

The case goes to trial today at 9:00 a.m. in the Pima County Superior Court, Room 808. The matter is scheduled for one day.

I am glad to see that the Arizona Daily Star has finally assigned a reporter to this case, Darren DaRonco. Who controls local elections at issue in suit against state :

Tucson will be in court today for the first round in its most recent
legal battle with the state over who controls local elections.

Tucson
and Phoenix will jointly ask Pima County Superior Court Judge James
Marner to overturn a state law mandating all elections occur in
even-numbered years.

The Legislature passed the bill in 2012 over the vehement opposition of most incorporated cities and towns across the state.

Supporters
of the measure say the bill will increase voter turnout and save money
since turnout is higher in even-numbered years when national and
statewide offices are on the ballot.

Opponents say the bill will harm cities since municipal contests will be relegated to the bottom of a multi-page ballot.

Historically,
many voters never make it to lower-level races at the bottom of a long
ballot, meaning the law could result in fewer voters participating at
the city level.

The question of whether there is such a thing as
an optimum election date notwithstanding, the city is going to argue
that the entire case boils down to local autonomy. And it's charter
cities, not the legislature, who get to determine how and in what manner
their elections are conducted, said city attorney Mike Rankin.

"This
legislation directly conflicts with our city charter," Rankin said.
"Our charter serves as our local constitution and dictates how our
elections ought to be run. And that's important to us because the
charter is approved by the city voters. And it's our position, under the
Constitution, that the city voters get to decide how elections are
run."

Rankin said the case is similar to when the Legislature
attempted a few years ago to prohibit cities from having partisan,
city-wide elections for council members.

Tucson sued then and the case went all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, which ruled in Tucson's favor in 2012.

That Supreme Court ruling should resonate in this instance, he said.

"We believe the case law is clear that the state Legislature doesn't get to interfere with that local control," Rankin said.

In a related legal matter, our lawless legislature in the final hours of the session "logrolled"
two unrelated matters, home owners association rules and some election
reforms — which, among other things, required cities to conform their
election dates to the state elections calendar — to correct the bill
passed last year, HB 2826, which is going to trial today
in Pima County Superior Court
— into a single bill. This violates
Arizona's constitutional "single-subject" rule. Bill
on elections, HOAs is targeted
:

The suit takes aim at Senate Bill 1454,
which passed in the legislative session’s closing rush. The legislation
tacked on a number of changes to homeowners-association procedures to a
bill dealing with numerous election-related measures.
Combining different topics in a bill — a tactic known as logrolling —
violates the Constitution’s single-subject rule, argued attorney Tim
Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. He filed the
suit in Maricopa County Superior Court on behalf of two men active in
homeowners associations.

The bill’s second constitutional misstep
is its title, which does not accurately capture the topics addressed in
the bill, the suit states. The title refers to elections and does not
address homeowners-association changes.

While the bill should not be dealing with
the two topics, its title nonetheless should at least accurately
reflect its contents, Hogan said.

Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale) can't get anything right. She has no business fooling around with Arizona election laws.

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