New Arizona Voter Initiative Law May Be Costly, Possibly Unconstitutional

Published: Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 8:38am
Updated: Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 9:18am

Voters who want to bypass a bi-partisan Legislature to get a measure on a ballot will have to pay more and work longer than their state lawmakers, according to testimony from Andrew Chavez, a consultant often hired to help people collect signatures and craft bills for proposal.

In Maricopa County Superior Court on Wednesday, Chavez detailed how the recently approved GOP sponsored restrictions to petition will disqualify voter initiatives on the slightest technicalities. To help his clients clear those legal hurdles, he estimated it will take 30 percent more work, bumping up the price tag by tens of thousands of dollars for an average petition.

Attorney Roopali Desai represents challengers to the new law. She asked the judge to consider that Arizona’s Constitution was written to specifically give voters the right to propose their own laws.

"It is in the constitution because the people of Arizona believe their right to legislate is co-equal to that of the legislature, and not subordinate to that of the Legislature,'' Desai told Judge Sherry Stephens.

They hope to convince the judge to block the recently signed House Bill 2244 from being enacted. 

Proponents of the bill argued the new requirement’s impact is exaggerated and claimed opponents have no case trying to argue for “potential harm,” when the new law hasn’t had a chance to go into effect. 

If the new law is blocked, opponents will likely take it to the Arizona Supreme Court for review.

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