Single and in love? : Proposition 129 Would Limit Ballot Measures To One Topic – Cronkite News

A supporter signs a petition for an initiative to block the expansion of state empowerment scholarship accounts, but the petition campaign falls far short of the signatures needed to appear on the ballot. Critics of Proposition 129, which would limit ballot initiatives to a single topic, say it would make it even harder for voters to get issues on the ballot, among other concerns. (file photo by Justin Spangenthal/Cronkite News)

Proposition 129 would limit ballot initiatives to a single topic, which supporters say would clarify issues for voters and make it easier to vote for or against an issue. But critics say that – along with Propositions 128 and 130 on the ballot this fall – would only increase the power of lawmakers at the expense of voters. (Picture by Samantha Chow/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON — Proposition 129 asks only one question: whether or not all future ballot initiatives should ask one question.

Proposal would amend the Arizona Constitution to require that any ballot initiative be limited to a single topic, a move that supporters say will make the process more accessible to voters by simplifying what could be an unwieldy question.

“It would make things much clearer for voters and align the initiative process more closely with what has generally worked,” said Suzanne Kinney, CEO and president of the Arizona Chapter of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

But critics see it as another attempt, with Propositions 128 and 132, to increase the power of the Legislative Assembly at the expense of voters this fall.

“If you’re a state legislator and you’d rather have total control over the policy-making process, then you’d rather have people…keep their hands on your legislation,” said Stefanie Lindquist, a law professor and in politics at Arizona State University. Sciences.

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Along with Proposition 129, which was introduced by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, both Propositions 128 and 132 came out of the 2021 session of the Legislature. Proposition 128 would make it easier for lawmakers to alter voter-approved initiatives, which is currently nearly impossible, while Proposition 132 would raise the bar for voter-approved tax increases from the current simple majority to an approval by 60%.

Arizona Rep. Reginald Bolding Jr., D-Laveen, said the proposals are a reaction by Republicans in the state to recent progressive successes at the polls, including moves to raise the minimum wage, tax tops revenue and legalize medical and recreational marijuana.

“Arizona is a much more progressive place than people realize,” said Bolding, the House Minority Leader. “It’s absolutely terrifying and scary the old boys club that has always called the shots here in Arizona.”

Pinny Sheoran, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, said Proposition 129 had its roots in Proposition 206, which raised the minimum wage to $10 and created a right to paid sick leave.

It happened with 58% of votes but was challenged in court by business groups, who argued that it dealt with two separate topics and was therefore unconstitutional. The courts rejected this argument and decided that the initiative could be maintained in 2017.

Sheoran, an opponent of Proposition 129, said it would give business groups another tool to block complex, pro-worker initiatives. And she asked who would determine whether an initiative is a “single subject” or not, citing Proposition 206 as an example.

“Who’s to say that… when the proposal was passed to increase the minimum wage and family leave, it should have been separated or they are two different topics?” Sheoran asked. “How are they? Working people want a living wage and they want to be able to take care of their families.”

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This point was echoed by Lindquist, who said “a single subject is often in the eye of the beholder”.

“It gives people who want to challenge initiatives in court more workarounds to challenge an enacted or passed constitutional amendment,” she said.

But Kavanagh said the only thing its legislation responds to the state Supreme Court’s ruling that the single-subject rule does not apply to citizen-initiated laws. He rejected arguments that the proposal would limit ballot measures to a narrow issue, saying it would instead limit them to single topics.

“It’s the single subject rule, not a single layout rule,” Kavanagh said. “You can have as many provisions as you want, as long as they stay in a general area, like education or health or criminal justice or whatever.”

supporters as Kinney framed Proposition 129 as “a matter of fairness to voters.” Not only will this simplify the ballot, she said, but it will also mean that these questions won’t have some elements voters might like and some they might hate.

“When we see many different concepts thrown into a single ballot initiative… voters are forced to make the decision to accept things they really don’t like in order to get the ones they like,” said Kinney.

She and other supporters — including groups like the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Center for Arizona Policy Action — argue that the proposal would align campaign initiative rules with those imposed on the Legislative Assembly, which limits everything. single-subject statutes.

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But the opponents noted that voters face obstacles that legislators do not. While legislators may introduce multiple bills at once to legislate on multiple topics, each election initiative is the product of a long and costly process of collecting and submitting hundreds of thousands of petition signatures.

An initiative proposing a new law requires the signatures of 10% of registered voters, currently 237,645, while a constitutional amendment bill requires 15%, or 356,467, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Francisco Pedraza, associate director of the Center for Latina/os and American Politics Research, calls the proposal an effort to “cut back on the robustness of the ballot initiative.”

“The power of the people to legislate would still be there, but now it would be reduced,” Pedraza said. “The power that Representatives have in the State Legislature…would increase slightly.”

Sheoran rejects the argument that a one-subject rule would make the process easier for voters.

“That’s the risk that any worthwhile campaign takes, that the proposal they put forward will not be well understood,” she said. “Having a single topic in no way guarantees that a voter will be better informed.”

If passed, Arizona will join 16 other states with single-subject rules, such as California, Nevada and Florida. It’s a move Sheoran thinks is unnecessary for Arizona voters.

“I trust the voters,” she said. “Voters are not stupid.”

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