Hot-Button Ballot Measures, ‘Sneaky’ Language Spur Debate

Gay marriage, taxes, immigration, 400 percent loans and baffling arguments enliven Payson forum

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Chris Tilley

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Cliff Potts

A wide-ranging debate involving gay marriage, real estate taxes, payday loans, illegal immigration, sneaky language and a host of hot-button issues took place Wednesday during a nonpartisan ballot proposition forum held Wednesday in Payson’s Democratic Party headquarters.

Four of the propositions seek to amend Arizona’s Constitution; four others would solely add new laws.

Measures include blocking any future possible real estate transfer tax, reforming payday loans, raising legislative salaries, and moving into the constitution the existing law barring gay marriage.

Prop. 100: Bans tax

Proposition 100, Protect Our Homes, seeks a constitutional amendment to block a real estate transfer tax.

Cliff Potts, a local Realtor, said a transfer tax amounts to little more than a sales tax, and the measure would disproportionately affect low-income homeowners who spend a higher percentage of their income on housing.

“Now is the time to do it,” Potts said. If voters don’t write the ban on all future real estate tax increases it would “indicate a nod to our cash-strapped government” that implementing a new tax is a good way to raise revenue.

Chris Tilley, president of the Northern Gila County Democratic Club, suggested that the law could exempt houses that sell for under $500,000.

“Maybe it is not such a bad idea for the state to make some money,” she said.

Organizations that wrote in support of the proposition in the voter’s information packet included Arizona Tax Revolt, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and various state legislators. Opponents included the Arizona Education Association, which wrote that the money could be used to improve education and other social needs.

Prop.101: Medical Choice?

Medical Choice for Arizona, guarantees the right for citizens to choose their own health care.

Several doctors and medical associations wrote in favor of the proposition, saying that choice is a hallmark of America, and that continued competition contributes to lower prices.

“There is no more personal or precious right,” than the right to make health care decisions, wrote M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., a past president of the Arizona Medical Association. He wrote that patients must be free to choose “alternative methods of care — even if the bureaucratic establishment does not recognize them.”

Opponents say the measure seeks to bar Arizona from joining in a universal health care system, should one be implemented nationally. Critics also include various doctors, the Arizona Republican Assembly, and several Green Party candidates.

“This measure is not about guaranteeing choice,” wrote the representatives from the Arizona Advocacy Network. “It’s about making sure Arizonans are required to channel our health care dollars into the pockets of big insurance companies and the for-profit health care industry.”

Several residents on Wednesday wondered why the measure needs to be a constitutional amendment.

Prop. 102: Gay Marriage

Proposition 102, the Marriage Protection Amendment, amends the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. A law with that definition already exists.

Jerry Foster, who spoke Wednesday, said he supported the measure on religious grounds. “I do believe we were put here for that purpose — to be married,” he said.

Foster worried that if the law were not passed, then teachers would at some point be forced to teach that gay marriages are “perfectly normal.”

Opponents say that government should stay out of Americans’ private lives.

“I do not think we should be messing with our constitution on something like this,” said Del Bohlmeyer, in Payson. His statement was followed by shouts of “Amen” and “I agree.”

Prop. 105: Majority Vote:

Proposition 105, Majority Rules, would require that a majority of registered voters approve taxing or spending measures, not just the majority of those voting.

Supporters in the voter’s packet included mostly private residents, along with the Arizona Farm Bureau. Proponents say that requiring a “true majority” approval of spending or taxing measures would help balance Arizona’s deficit.

“The state budget is on auto-pilot,” wrote representatives from Americans for Prosperity. The letter asserted that voter-approved spending measures and tax mandates on initiatives, often sponsored by special interest groups, wrest control from the legislature.

Opponents of the measure say it would make it nearly impossible enact any ballot proposition that affected taxes or required the state to spend money.

Critics include the Arizona Education Association, the Clean Elections Institute and the League of Women Voters of Arizona, among others. Backers of several successful proposition noted in the voter pamphlet that even measures that get 68 percent of the vote could fail, since often barely half of the registered voters actually vote.

“Why should we let people that don’t bother to vote decide an election?” wondered the Arizona School Board Association.

Bohlmeyer, in Payson, agreed. “It’s really saying that a person who doesn’t vote is really voting no.”

Editor’s Note: For a discussion of the rest of the ballot measures see Friday’s Roundup

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