When Arizona voters go to the polls Nov. 7, they will be asked to wade through 13 to 16 propositions ranging from an initiative that would phase out all state and local income taxes to a controversial Sierra Club initiative to restrict growth.
The number is uncertain because the fate of three of the 16 propositions rests with the Arizona Supreme Court, which is expected to decide by Aug. 30 whether the measures can appear on the ballot. All three have been challenged on the grounds that they violate a constitutional provision against "logrolling" on ballot measures that call for amendments to the state constitution because they contain two or more disparate issues.
This is the first in a weekly series of articles explaining the propositions, and the following is a brief overview of each of the 16 measures:
One of the propositions being challenged in court, this measure was initiated by Governor Jane Hull and developed by the state Legislature to provide a softer alternative to Proposition 202, the anti-growth measure backed by the Sierra Club. It expands the 1998 Growing Smarter Act by reforming the way state trust land is managed, permitting conservation of some unique state trust land, modernizing the management of the remaining trust land, and more directly benefiting public schools and other trust beneficiaries.
Sponsored by the Legislature, this initiative updates the wording of sections of the state constitution relating to voting rights and restrictions, exemptions from property taxes, public school systems, and public institutions as they apply to people who are incapacitated or disabled, who are hearing and vision impaired, or who have mental or physical disabilities.
This Legislature-sponsored measure amends the state constitution by adding a provision requiring a two-thirds vote to pass any ballot measure or initiative that "permits, limits, or prohibits the taking of wildlife, or the methods or seasons thereof."
Also sponsored by the Legislature, this initiative amends the state constitution to allow Arizona Corporation Commission members to hold office for two terms rather than one, to change the corporation commission from a three-person body to a five-person body, and to allow the governor to appoint a commissioner to a vacancy.
This proposition amends the state constitution to allow a resident who is 65 or older to apply to the county assessor for a property valuation protection option on a primary residence if certain income requirements are met. It also is sponsored by the Legislature.
Another Legislature-sponsored proposition, this initiative amends the state constitution to exempt from taxation cemeteries that are "set apart and used to inter deceased human beings."
Sponsored by Fair Districts, Fair Elections, this measure creates a new "citizens' independent redistricting commission" to draw new legislative and congressional district boundaries after each U.S. census. By taking the redistricting power away from the Legislature and giving it to a politically neutral commission, its sponsor thinks it will "create fair districts that are not 'gerrymandered'...."
Another of the propositions being challenged in court, this initiative, sponsored by the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, would end all Arizona state and local income taxes over a four-year phaseout period, require that any new taxes be approved by a majority of voters, and allow designations on the ballot identifying candidates who have indicated they favor eliminating the federal income tax in favor of a federal sales tax.
The third proposition being challenged in court, this initiative, sponsored by Arizonans for Consumer Choice and Fair Competition, updates century-old telephone regulations to encourage consumer choice and competition in the telecommunications industry, and to assure that all consumers and companies are treated fairly.
Sponsored by Healthy Children Healthy Families, this initiative specifies that Arizona's tobacco settlement money be used for health care and prevention for Arizona families, including health insurance for uninsured working parents and new efforts for child abuse prevention.
Sponsored by The People Have Spoken and filed by Plants are Medicine, this initiative, known as the Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act of 2000, includes changing the punishment for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana from a potential jail term to a fine, makes non-violent drug offenders convicted only of simple possession eligible for parole, and establishes a system run by the attorney general for legal distribution of medical marijuana to qualifying patients.
Sponsored by Citizens for Growth Management, this is the Sierra Club-backed initiative. It requires cities and counties to adopt growth management plans to limit urban sprawl by setting urban growth boundaries, limiting development and new city services outside the boundaries, and requiring developers to pay for roads and schools to serve new subdivisions.
Sponsored by English for the Children-Arizona, this proposition requires that all public school instruction be conducted in English. Children not fluent in English will normally be placed in an intensive one-year English immersion program. Normal foreign language programs are unaffected.
Like Proposition 200, this measure allocates money received from the recent tobacco industry settlement. Sponsored by the Healthy Arizona Initiative Political Action Committee, it requires that such money be spent on the health of Arizonans, beginning with the funding of the Healthy Arizona Initiative approved by the voters in 1996.
Sponsored by the Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officials, this initiative Raises the salaries of state legislators from $24,000 to $30,000 per year.
The full text of this Legislature-sponsored education initiative runs 92 pages. In part, it provides funding for its provisions by increasing the state transaction privilege tax rate by six-tenths of 1 percent, including some additional money for teachers' salaries; provides a state matching grant of $1,500 to schools with an age-specific, stand-alone character education program; instructs the Arizona Department of Education to compile an annual achievement profile for each public school; establishes a local education accountability program; and establishes a school-wide audit team to conduct performance audits and monitor school districts to determine the percentage of every dollar that is actually spent in the classroom.