Your constitutional rights as ‘citizen legislators’ through referendum and initiative are gradually being eroded by our lawless legislature and the courts

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Constitutional provisions enacted by the voters through initiative or
referendum can only be repealed by the voters through another
initiative or referendum. At least, this is how it is supposed to work.

The ballot referendum proposed by the Arizona Legislature in 1979 to
amend the Arizona Constitution to impose a "resign to run" law was
approved by the voters at the 1980 general election. Article 22, Section 18
of the Arizona Constitution
provides "Except during the final year of
the term being served, no incumbent of a salaried elective office,
whether holding by election or appointment, may offer himself for
nomination or election to any salaried local, state or federal office."

The "resign to run" law was undermined a few years ago by an
incorrectly decided
court decision in the case of John Huppenthal, which
has become known as the "Huppenthal Rule": candidates can file an
exploratory committee and collect money and signatures before
"officially" declaring their candidacy. Back in the day, the courts actually enforced the "resign to run" law, see Conrad Joyner v. Rose Mofford, 706 F.2d 1523 (1983). Somehow, the court decided to carve out an exception for Mr. Huppenthal.

Earlier this year, Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) sponsored HB2157, which
effectively nullifies what little remained of the "resign to run" law
through legislative legerdemain, without referral of the measure to the
voters. Under his bill, an elected official will only be considered a candidate for
another office after filing his or her nominating papers for that office. This is known as "the exception swallowing the rule of law."

The effective date of this bill is today. While Article 22, Section 18 remains in the Arizona Constitution, our lawless legislature has effectively nullified this constitutional "resign to run" law provision through legislative legerdemain, without any affirmative vote of the voters.

Another recent example was the incorrectly decided court decision that allowed the Arizona Legislature to ignore the voter mandate to fund health care in the Healthy Arizona citizens initiative, Prop. 204 (2000) and to cut the health care budget and freeze AHCCCS enrollment in 2010. The court took the easy way out, arguing the "political question doctrine" under separation of powers, claiming it could not force a co-equal branch of government to act — despite the existence of the Voter Protection Act citizens initiative, Prop. 105 (1998), which required a three-fourths super-majority vote of each chamber to amend a citizens initiative and further required that it "further the purposes" of the approved initiative. Cutting the health care budget and freezing AHCCCS enrollment was in direct contravention of Prop. 204. The court's incorrect decision effectively eviscerated the Voter Protection Act, Prop. 105.

This case is going to serve as bad precedent in the recent case filed by Tea-Publicans in Arizona's lawless legislature challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission citizens initiative, Prop. 106 (2000). Our "Sun King" Tea-Publican legislators argue that they and they alone get to decide the boundaries of the election districts from which they will run, the will of "citizen legislators" –the voters — be damned.

Arizona_legislature_11274934985This case is also going to serve as bad precedent in the case challenging our Tea-Publican lawless legislature's attempt to effectively kill the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections citizens initiative, Prop. 200 (1998). Judge Brain of the Maricopa County Superior Court denied a request for a restraining order to block the new campaign finance limits from going into effect today, which is a back-door attempt to kill Citizens Clean Elections by putting participating candidates at a severe disadvantage, rather than a level playing field that the initiative sought to impose. Judge lets law boosting campaign contributions take effect.

Finally, there is the Goldwater Institute's case filed this week on behalf of 36 Tea-Publican legislators who voted against Governor Jan Brewer's Medicaid (AHCCCS) Restoration Plan. This time, however, these Tea-Publicans are arguing for strict compliance with Prop. 108 (1992), which requires a two-thirds super-majority vote of each chamber to "increase revenues" — they assert the "hospital assessment fee" is a tax that did not receive the requisite two-thirds vote. And in pure chutzpa, they assert the Voter Protection Act citizens initiative, Prop. 105 (1998), which they have been doing their damnedest to nullify in every other case above.

In every case, the objective is to diminish the constitutional rights of "citizen legislators" (see HB 2305 for initiative, referendum and recall) and enhancing the power of elected representatives vis–à–vis the citizens whom they ostensibly serve. This is because the masters whom they serve are the über-rich elite plutocrats who fund their campaigns and give them lucrative lobbyist and "think tank" jobs when they leave office. The voters who do not contribute large sums of money to their campaigns have become irrelevant. They treat the voters with contempt.

But this is only true so long as you allow this situation to continue. The voters have a remedy — you can kick these Tea-Publican tyrants out of office, and elect representatives who will respect the voters and do the will of the people. The power is in your hands.

6 responses to “Your constitutional rights as ‘citizen legislators’ through referendum and initiative are gradually being eroded by our lawless legislature and the courts

  1. What you are really saying is that the voters would not approve the repeal of this constitutional provision as a ballot measure. So you did an end-run around the constitutional process (referendum) to get what you wanted. I’ll take that as an admission.

  2. Frances Perkins

    All this hot air begs the question. Resign to run. The people want you to do the job you have, not to spend all your time posturing and fund raising, and trying to find loopholes and exemptions so you can run for something else. It’s obscene. But egomaniacs in this State, especially the anti government types who fight so hard to be in government and to stay there, are crass hypocrites. Yes that means Huppenthal and the his ilk.

  3. State Rep. John Kavanagh

    A bill to put it on the ballot would never pass. That said, my bill at least improved the situation.

  4. As I said, the court decision which created the “Huppenthal Rule” was incorrect. Your legislation only compounds it. If you want intellectual honesty, you should seek to repeal the constitutional provision by putting it to the voters, and not use legislative legerdemain to nullify it.

  5. State Rep. John Kavanagh

    Like it or not, prior to my bill becoming law, candidates could legally set up a campaign committees, collect donations, collect nominating signatures and campaign, so long as they said they were only “exploring” or “thinking” of running and did not turn in their signatures. That was a deceptive insult to voters. My bill allows candidates tell the truth. I think that is a good thing.

  6. Well, why did the legislators refer this to the ballot? Because, other elected offices have four year terms and can run against legislators mid-term if they don’t have to resign. You should never support something like this. This is suppression of political competition.