A to-do list for the Legislature: Initiative reform
April 11, 2017
GlennHamer this week is taking a look at a to-do list Arizona’s job creators are encouraging the Legislature to accomplish before adjourning for the year. His first column looked at budget priorities.
Legislative to-do list day 2: Add greater integrity and accountability to our initiative process
The stakes are high when it comes to Arizona’s ballot initiative process. If an initiative results in an unintended consequence that harms the state, there’s very little our elected Legislature can do to fix it. That’s why we have to be extra careful that the process for a measure to advance to the ballot is defined by rigor and integrity and is followed correctly. We can’t risk a mistake.
The Legislature passed and Gov. Ducey signed into law HB 2404 earlier this session, which was a priority bill for the Chamber and took a major step toward improving the initiative process.
Thanks to that bill, our initiative process will now place greater emphasis on the quality of petition signatures needed to secure a place on the ballot rather than just the quantity of signatures. The legislation prohibits payment to signature gatherers on a per-signature basis and it extends the timeline to challenge the lawful registration of circulators and validity of petition signatures from five days to 10 business days.
The Chamber strongly supports HB 2244, which would safeguard the initiative process by requiring that statewide initiative measures strictly adhere to all constitutional and statutory requirements.
The strict compliance standard already applies to legislative referrals and citizen referenda, so applying the same standard to initiative measures creates uniformity within the process.
We also support SB 1236, which would strengthen the paid circulator registration requirements with the Secretary of State and make it easier to notify circulators of any obligation to appear in court.
While circulators who receive compensation for their work are already required to register with the Secretary of State, they often do not, and for that there is little consequence. SB 1236 addresses that.
The bill also prohibits paid circulators who have violated any campaign finance or election law in the last five years from registering with the Secretary of State’s Office, and it makes it a class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly file false or misleading information when registering as a paid circulator.
The initiative process is lawmaking. Therefore, we should have a system that reflects the gravity of its potential impact on all aspects of living and doing business in Arizona. Passage of HB 2244 and SB 1236 are critical to improving the initiative process
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry