By Michael Bryan and Jenn F
Here's your cheat sheet for the ballot propositions. You can also read up with the Arizona Advocacy Network.
With only two exceptions (110, 112 - which were referred by bi-partisan majorities), we recommend you reject all the propositions referred by the state legislature.
Yes: Props 110, 112, 203.
No: All the others (106, 107, 109, 111, 113, 301, 302).
If you want more details and reasons, read on.
First, the suggested Yes votes:
Prop 110: State Land Trust Reforms
This proposed constitutional amendment was referred to the ballot nearly unanimously by the state legislature and is supported by all the key stakeholders. It creates an accountable and reasonably transparent process to make swaps of public lands for conservation and protecting military facilities in Arizona.
As a state, we've been trying to get this done for many years. Prior attempts failed because they were too complex, too opaque, and too compromised by special-interest self-dealing. We finally have a simple and universally supported solution that we can feel confident voting for. Good job, folks.
Prop 112: New Initiative Deadline
This proposed constitutional amendment was also referred to the ballot nearly unanimously by the state legislature and is widely supported. It moves up the filing deadline for initiative petitions by two months to provide more time for checking signatures and legal challenges. It is a common-sense and non-partisan reform.
Critics will complain that shaving two months off the petitioning period will disproportionately affect grassroots campaigns. While I can see that there may be marginal effects on badly financed or badly run petition campaigns, but the benefits outweigh the potential cost.
Prop 203: Medical Marijuana (Again...)
The only real citizen's initiative on the ballot, Prop 203 would decriminalize the use of marijuana for palliative care of certain medical conditions. Arizona voters voted for this in 1996 and 1998 and the GOP conspired to block implementation.
This is not a marijuana orgy initiative. Dispensaries are closely regulated and limited to 120 state-wide, use requires a prescription for a listed condition (no "anxiety" disorders), and it is self-financing. You still won't be allowed to drive or do other dangerous stuff while effected by marijuana, but employers can't fire you for failing a drug test for marijuana metabolites if you have a prescription.
Simple fact is that a Yes vote is not approval of recreational use of the plant, but an act of compassion for those suffering from debilitating and painful diseases.
Now, for all the suggested No votes:
Prop 106: Anti-"Obamacare"
This proposed constitutional amendment, referred to the ballot by the legislature on a party-line vote, seeks to prevent any law from compelling any person, employer or health care provider from participating in any health care system.
There are so many reasons to vote No, but here are three.
First, it is merely a symbolic political stunt to express outrage over "Obamacare" and try to foil it's implementation. It is part and parcel with the litigation against the Federal government that Arizona GOP leaders are pursuing. A substantially equivalent proposition was rejected by voters in 2008.
That leads to the second reason: it won't work. A state constitution does not trump federal law. It won't have any effect on healthcare reform. Even if you oppose Obama's reforms, this Proposition won't help.
That leads to the third reason: it's overly broad. The amendment would restrict the state government from creating any healthcare reforms specific to Arizona. It essentially removes the authority of the state government to regulate the healthcare industry. Crippling the state government's authority to regulate a major industry that makes up 1/6th of the economy seems like a very bad idea, even if you think Obama is a socialist muslim. We'd be dealing with the legal fallout of this misguided political gesture in the courts for years.
Prop 107: Anti-Affirmative Action Out-of-State Troublemaking
Proposition 107 is the latest endeavour by the American Civil Rights Initiative, a California-based foundation that is attempting to eliminate affirmative action using a state-by-state strategy. Deceptively worded, Proposition 107 would prevent state money from being used for any program that considers race or gender. In California and Michigan, passage of similar measures have had devastating effects on the states' economies and higher education, foreshadowing what passage of Proposition 107 could mean for our state.
Arizona's economy depends upon attracting large and small businesses to the state, and to the jobs brought in around our state's three universities. In terms of economy, Proposition 107 would broadly eliminate many programs that benefit women and minorities, including daycare programs for working women, training and professional improvement programs aimed at underrepresented groups, and outreach efforts for federal assistance and grants to help female- and minority-owned small businesses. Large corporations looking to move into Arizona may find their private diversity hiring practices at odds with state laws prohibiting affirmative action, and may thereby be discouraged from setting up shop in the state. In terms of education, Proposition 107 will reduce federal money coming to the state to help female and minority students, and will discourage in-state and out-of-state minority students from enrolling in our state schools. Indeed, in California, passage of a similar measure resulted a progressive, and immediate, drop in Black and Latino students for nearly a decade.
In short, Proposition 107 is bad news for the state's economy and education. Arizona can't afford to pass ballot measures that serve as disincentives for education and small business -- the very sectors that our economy depends on to survive and grow.
Prop 109: Hands Off Hunting, Mr. Voter
Prop 109 would create a constitutional right to hunt, and consigns hunting regulation to the state legislature. Why is this needed? Because radical anti-hunting groups want to take away your guns and right hunt? Well, not so much, really.
The GOP tried to restrict the ability of citizens to regulate hunting through the initiative process by referring 2000's Prop 102 to the ballot. That effort to get citizens to tie their own hands politically failed narrowly. This is the latest effort to try to get citizens' hands off hunting.
It is certainly a more clever strategy this time around: tell voters they are getting a new constitutional right and maybe they won't notice that it makes it much more difficult to regulate hunting practices through the initiative process because any changes would require constitutional amendments instead of just new laws (it requires many more signatures to petition for a constitional amendment than a standard initiative).
Hands Off Hunting is also a fundraising boon to the Goldwater institute and their conservative ilk; they will have standing to sue everybody who might in any way infringe on the new "right to hunt" and fundraise like mad off their efforts. Hands Off Hunting would also very likely overturn the recent ban on leg-hold trapping. Oh, and Hands Off Hunting would also subject scientific game population management to political grandstanding by the conservative bulls of the state lege.
This Prop is a solution in search of a problem, a power grab by the legislature against the citizens of Arizona, and a means of injecting politics deeply into wildlife conservation and game species management in Arizona.
Prop 111: Secretary of State / Lt. Governor (and No More Run-Offs)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing the name of the Secretary of State to educate voters about the succession order for the Arizona Governorship. Arguably voters would have not voted for a dingbat like Brewer if they knew that she'd be Governor when Janet decided to find greener pastures. And if that's all this constitutional amendment did, I would be in favor of it. But this is a flawed proposition for two reasons.
First, Prop 111 needlessly eliminates run-off elections for statewide offices. It strikes out the constitutional provision for run-offs in statewide races in which no candidate receives an outright majority. Nobody can explain to my satisfaction why that is in there. The effect it would have is clear: it would produce plurality elected statewide officers in some cases. That might induce the running of spoiler candidates to siphon off votes to allow a non-majoritarian candidate to be elected who would not otherwise be able to win in a head-to-head match. Given the GOP's recent experiments in using the Green party as a catspaw in state races to siphon liberal votes, it is not unreasonable to be concerned about this seemingly unnecessary provision. If anyone knows of a good reason for this, please leave a comment.
Second, the proposition requires the Governor and newly created Lt. Governor to run as a ticket. While almost all states have Lt. Governors instead of succeeding Secretaries of State, only Utah requires they run as a ticket. It's just not necessary and it's potentially a very bad idea. It might cause candidates for the two top slots to mute any criticisms of each other during the primaries in expectation that their electoral fate may be affected by need to run as a ticket later. It's bad for open political exchange and tends to enforce a intra-party discipline that doesn't serve voters.
The legislature should just change the damn name and leave it at that. These unnecessary and potentially harmful provisions make it better to just wait until Arizona voters get a better version presented to them.
Prop 113: Anti-Employee Free Choice Act
This proposition suffers from some of the same defects as 106, the anti-"Obamacare" prop: it is intended to try to thwart federal legislation (and will fail to do so), it was referred on an almost-purely party-line vote (Senator Aguirre (D-24) and Rep Pancrazi (D-24) have some 'splaining to do), and it's only purpose is suppress the formation of unions in Arizona.
Backers prattle about the sanctity of secret ballots and intimidation by union thugs. It's total bullshit. They merely want to serve their corporate masters and perpetuate the anti-union, "right to work" state status quo against card check elections which make it logistically easier to form unions. It is not a coincidence that the decline of the American middle class closely tracks the decline in the unionization of the American labor force. Unions are positive for workers rights and wages and making it easier to organize is good for workers and good for America.
Prop 301: "Fuck You Mr. Voter" Land Conservation Fund Sweep
This is the legislatures desperate bid to steal $123 million from the Land Conservation Fund to balance the 2011 budget (the money is already included in the GOP's budget, making the unwarranted assumption that this dog would hunt). The voters protected that money in 1998's Growing Smarter Act because they understood that the GOP legislature did not share the priority they placed on conservation of our natural environment.
It comes down to this: the GOP legislature hates it when voters appropriate money without their approval. They referred Prop 101 to the ballot in 2004 and succeeded in forcing any initiative that requires appropriations to identify a new funding source because they hate being told how to spend money. They've decided that they want that $123 million to balance their budget, but those pesky voters' are in the way, wanting to spend all that money on stupid wildlife when their are tax loopholes for their donors to protect. It's comes down to a big "fuck you" to the voters by the state lege. My advice is to tell them "fuck you" right back by voting No.
Prop 302: "Fuck You, Mr. Voter" First Things First Sweep
You just read about 301? Same thing; just replace $123 million with $345 million, and land conservation with childhood development and health.
There is a major difference, however. Because First Things First (302) was passed in 2006, after 2004's Prop 101 requirement than any new initiative spending specify a new revenue source, First Things First also raised tobacco taxes to pay for the new programs. So none of that money would even be in the First Things First account if voters hadn't raised taxes on themselves to pay for them. And they certainly wouldn't have raised taxes on themselves for any programs that were less important to them than early childhood development and health. Now the GOP legislature wants to steal that money from the kids, to whom the voters gave it, to preserve the tax loopholes of their donors and cronies.
This one was also referred on a nearly perfect party-line vote. Props to Rep. Quelland (R-10) and Williams (R-26) and Sen. Tibshraeny (R-21) who had enough integrity and respect for the voters to vote No on referring this big, wet raspberry to the voters.