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Governor Hobbs has been a goalie stopping 143 Bills from becoming law this session with the use of her VETO pen. However, she is powerless when Resolutions pass both chambers. Resolutions bypass the governor.

Resolutions come in many shapes and sizes. Some simply make a statement requiring no action*, some send the statement to an appropriate party. Those needing our attention are ballot referral resolutions.

While citizens must collect signatures of voters to show support to bring an initiative or referendum to the ballot, the legislature can refer a question to the ballot with a simple majority vote.

Three referrals passed this session. Expect more to come next session and join the following on the 2024 ballot. These are resolution numbers and they will be assigned Initiative numbers which will appear on the ballot.

SCR1015 will ask voters to restrict Arizona’s initiative and referendum process by requiring ballot measures collect signatures from a percentage of voters in each of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts: 10% for initiatives and 15% for a constitutional amendment. This would effectively give any single district veto power over the rest of the state. It could allow the most extreme area in the state to veto measures that have broad support. In other words, 29 legislative districts could pass a ballot question by 100% but if the 30th district falls short of the 10 or 15 percent threshold the measure would fail.

HCR2033 will ask voters to cement our current direct primary system into the state Constitution. It would make it difficult to ever institute reforms such as Ranked-Choice or top-two primary voting. Arizona republicans are terrified that Rank Choice Voting could be used in Arizona elections and are trying to pre-empt that from happening with a constitutional change. Where used, Rank Choice Voting has tended to drop off extremist candidates from both sides of the political spectrum.

Note: Currently a citizens’ campaign is forming to circulate petitions to have both an open primary election and general election use of Rank Choice Voting. The citizens' ballot question is the complete opposite of the legislative ballot referral. To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, we’ll have some “Splainin” to do as we talk to voters! We’ll be hearing lots more about this initiative.

HCR2039 will ask voters to amend the state Constitution to reign in the governor’s power to extend a state of emergency. It requires lawmakers to approve an extension every 30 days. Arizona currently has 41 open state disaster declarations, which in many cases must be in place before we can receive federal funding.

In order to sway one republican holdout, the Referral was modified to exclude wildfires and droughts.

The Republican majority of the legislature was not happy with the Covid state of emergency and believe they should have a say in the extension of any future emergency. Since they are not a year round legislature that could mean being called back for special sessions. The legislature has increasingly been testing the waters to increase their powers.

Possible although not probable: If the majority party is suddenly overcome with goodwill and common sense, we could see another ballot referral vote when they reconvene on July 31st. The Maricopa County ½ cent transportation tax is set to expire in 2025. Maricopa County needs the legislature to pass a Bill allowing them, the County, to put a ballot referral on the 2024 ballot to extend the tax. It is not strictly a legislative referral but the legislature must give the o.k. to the County to make the referral. This law requiring legislative approval only applies to Maricopa County. The County wants the light rail to remain a part of the funding, the legislature does not. The legislature already sent the governor 2 extension bills which she vetoed. If the majority party cannot get the job done, Mayors from Maricopa County’s largest cities have spoken about spear-heading a citizens’ initiative to extend funding which was first passed by voters in 1986.

*Back in February Senator Anthony J6 Kern added a striker amendment to one of his resolutions already making it’s way through the senate. It passed the senate and house on partisan votes. The original resolution called for the legislature to appoint presidential electors. Apparently that idea was not bad enough because he added a striker amendment to that resolution removing all language and replacing it with language for a new idea. It ended up being a nothing sandwich. SCR1037 when sent to the Secretary of State contained 6 pages of repeated conspiracy theories and strict requirements for voting machines to be used in Arizona.

Why are we laughing?

1. The voting machine he describes does not exist.

2. This resolution was a statement with no action required.

Text of resolution.

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