In 1998, Arizona voters passed Proposition 105 after the Legislature repeatedly overturned voter initiatives that we approved.
Our legislative lords and masters have been trying to put us back in our place ever since.
Today the Senate approved the latest end-run: HCR2018. It will appear on the 2014 ballot. If it’s approved, us peasants will have to re-authorize every voter initiative every eight years.
Otherwise it expires.
I mean, who do we think we are? Who are we to question the wisdom, judgment and authority of the 90
simpletons wise men and women we elect to our Legislature?
Let’s revisit that dark and ancient era of 1998. Two years earlier Arizona voters approved a proposition that authorized the use of medical marijuana and other controlled substances – provided at least two doctors agreed it was an appropriate treatment. It said that people serving time on charges related to personal drug use should be placed on parole and be required to attend treatment programs. Anyone convicted of an additional, violence-related charge would stay in prision. The measure also raised state taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and other tobacco products to fund these drug treatment programs.
When the GOPer-dominated legislature convened in 1997, it gutted this Proposition 200 by preventing it from taking effect unless Congress changed federal anti-drug laws.
We approved Proposition 105 as a direct consequence in 1998. It says that the Lege can’t modify a voter-approved measure unless it was approved by a three-quarters vote in both houses, and only if the modification furthered the intent of the voter measure.
The GOPers have been trying to kill this measure ever since. They’ve tried repeatedly. In some cases such as Proposition 301, a voter-approved measure requiring annual boosts in school funding to compensate for inflation, they simply ignored the law.
Even though the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled in September 2013 that the lege needed to comply with this law, the Legislature is still arguing that they don’t have to comply.
So now we have HCR2018. The Lege has tried repeatedly to kill such voter initiatives as Clean Elections, Indian gaming, and higher cigarette taxes to expand healthcare for the poor.
As originally introduced, this measure would have applied retroactively, forcing us all to revisit these same old arguments. As passed by the Senate on Tuesday, the “eight years and out” measure would only apply to new voter initiatives.
Supporters, such as State Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-I know what’s good for you people, turn reality inside-out by arguing that this is “a common-sense measure” that allows voters to revisit a measure to determine if it should be changed.
Well, as noted by House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Tilts At Windmills, we voters already have that power.
It’s called a voter initiative. We can file one every two years. We don’t have to wait eight years.
So here’s the thing. Legislators are hoping that we’ll get tired to ginning up a campaign every eight years to keep a measure in effect. Then it will go away, and they can go back to dictating to us. They’ve done nothing since 1997 to show that they’ve learned anything. In fact they continually try to circumvent the will of the voters – see the discussion above about school-funding and inflation.
Look for a well-funded campaign. They’ll pull out all the stops to convince us to accept this restriction on our powers.
Trust us, they will argue. Your legislators are your friends. They know better.
Let’s hope we all know better than to fall for this crap wrapped in a pretty candy wrapper.