With an astonishing number of measures on the ballot this election, going to the polls is going to be almost like being a legislator. You are going to need a lobbyist in your pocket to keep everything straight. I've compiled some information on each of the ballot questions for you in case you want to do some due diligence. If, on the other hand, you just want to be told what box to check, I've made it very clear with the use of visual aids what way you should go on each issue. I'm even giving you a printable, one-page cheat sheet to take to the polls. Download prop_vote_guide.pdf
I've crawled through the guts of the legalese, spoken to legislators to get the skinny on the referendums, and researched who is putting up the lucre for each initiative petition, so you don't have to. Cast an informed vote, and tell all your friends, family, co-workers, acquaintences, one-night-stands, and sundry strangers how to cast an informed vote, too.
KAET has done a series of discussion about each of the Propositions, which I highly recommend.
PROP 100: BAILABLE OFFENSES
Referendum Objective: This proposition would
amend the Arizona Constitution to prohibit bail for any person who is
charged with a serious felony offense (as determined by the
Legislature) if the person charged entered or remained in the United
States illegally and the court finds proof that the person committed
the crime is evident or the presumption that the person committed the
crime is great.
Full Text: HCR 2028
Editorial: Part of the package of anti-immigrant ballot bashing intended to rally the base to the polls, not to make good policy. It makes no substantive change to the law; no one would be made ineligible for bail who was not already ineligible. This insipid referendum changes our Constitution purely to score a rhetorical political point.
PROP 101: LOCAL PROPERTY TAX LEVIES
Referendum Objective: The Arizona Constitution limits the amount of
primary property tax that a county, city, town or community college
district may levy. Each taxing entity's limit was established in 1980,
and that limit has increased by two per cent each year, plus any new
construction. This proposition would amend the Arizona Constitution to remove unused taxing
capacity and reset each taxing entity's limit to the actual tax levy
limit of that county, city, town or community college district in
2005. Beginning in 2007, the new levy limit would increase by two per
cent per year, plus any new construction.
Full Text: HCR 2056
Editorial: An illegitimate legislative grab for power over local taxing authorities. Punishes localities which have not used the full extent of their taxing authority and could unduly limit the taxing authority of fast growing regions. Substitutes mindless flat formulas for the judgment of our local elected officials. Bad policy, bad politics, bad for Arizona.
PROP 102: STANDING IN CIVIL ACTIONS
Referendum Objective: This proposition would prohibit a person who
wins a civil lawsuit from receiving punitive damages if the person is
an alien who entered the United States in violation of federal
Full Text: SCR 1001
Editorial: If you believe that the fear of not being eligible for punative damages will act as a deterent to illegal immigration, you might be an idiot - and you'll probably vote for this mean-spirited referendum. The real motivation of our legislature in putting this abomination on the ballot is to immunize from justice those who seek to willfully and maliciously prey upon the weak and marginal in our society, and to rally their moronic, mouth-breathing base.
PROP 103: ENGLISH AS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
Referendum Objective: This proposition would replace the existing
provision of the Constitution of Arizona with a new provision
establishing English as the official language of this state. Any
person performing an official act of the state or a local government
would be required to preserve, protect and enhance the role of English
as the official language.
Full Text: HCR 2036
Editorial: ¿Como se dices "Xenophobe" en Espanol? Seriously, English is the most syncretic, viral, and fastest growing language on the planet. Does it really need legal protection: like French? Is the GOP going to try to establish an official English next? "No gerundizing your verbs to create an adjective in official English, children." Fucking morons. Language is an organic and iterative cultural tool of human communities and a natural human proclivity, it is not subject to, nor will it be controlled by legislative fiats. The problem with electing a parliament of magical-thinking religionistas is that they think they can control the real world by wishing things were so and then writing them down in the form of legislation and voting on them. Classic delusional behavior; don't buy into it.
PROP 104: MUNICIPAL DEBT
Referendum Objective: This proposition would allow political subdivisions of the state (cities, towns, school districts, and counties) to finance with debt the acquisition and development of land for the purposes of public safety, law enforcement, fire and emergency service facilities, streets and transportation facilities. Currently, only the purposes of open space preserves, parks, playgrounds and recreational
facilities are allowed.
Full Text: HCR 2001
Editorial: It seems like a good idea to give local governments more flexibility in financing transportation and public safety projects. There doesn't seem to be any agenda in play except increasing the options of local governments to meet the needs of constituents.
PROP 105: STATE TRUST LANDS
Referendum Objective: HCR 2045 proposes amendments to Arizona’s constitution relating to state trust land management.
Full Text: HCR 2045
Editorial: The GOP majority is using this referendum as a means of muddying the waters on the state trust lands citizen's initiative, Prop 106. Prop 105 puts much less land in trust and requires the legislature to separately approve every single parcel to be protected: fat chance, that. For real state trust land reform, vote for Prop 106.
PROP 106: CONSERVING ARIZONA'S FUTURE
Initiative Objective: To amend the Constitution of Arizona is to
permit the state of Arizona to manage state trust land in ways that
promote well-planned growth, conservation, and sound stewardship,
addressing issues that were not of concern at the time of statehood.
Sponsor: Conserving Arizona's Future
The Money: This initiative backed with almost $700K from a broad coalition of both conservationist, educational, and real estate interests who see their long-term interests being served by the measure. Contributors include the National and Arizona Education Associations ($250K), the Nature Conservancy ($100K), the Sonoran Institute ($45K), and an assortment of developers, including Diamond Ventures ($10K) and Vestar Development ($10K). Anything that bring that coalition together gets my vote.
Full Text: Complete Initiative.pdf (pdf)
Editorial: The real deal. Accept no substitutes.
PROP 107: PROTECT MARRIAGE ARIZONA
Initiative Objective: "This proposed amendment to the Arizona
Constitution preserves “marriage” as only consisting of the union of
one man and one woman, and prohibits creating or recognizing any legal
status for unmarried persons that is similar to that of marriage."
Sponsor: Protect Marriage Arizona
The Money: This measure is supported by a group of right wing idelogues, think tanks, and purported 'Christian' groups and churches. Major donors include the Center for Arizona Policy ($70K), United Families International ($50K), and Christian Family Care Agency ($20K).
Status: Pending Verification of Signatures
Full Text: Initiative text at sponsor's website
Editorial: A misguided attack on civil unions and non-marital partner benefits under the guise of an anti-homosexual bit of hate-mongering. Beyond insipid, and probably contrary to the federal constitution (for now).
PROP 200: AZ VOTER REWARD ACT
Initiative Objective: This proposed law would establish a voter
reward random drawing every two years with a first prize of one million
dollars or more for the purpose of increasing voter participation.
Voters who cast ballots in primary and general elections would be
eligible to win. The money would come from the Arizona Lottery and
Sponsor: Arizonans for Voting Rewards (Dr. Mark Osterloh, Chairman)
The Money: This initiative is financed primarily by Dr. Mark Osterloh ($40K). Dr. Osterloh better hope he's the first lucky voter.
Full Text: At AZ Secretary of State's website.
Editorial: There are those who say that a reward for voting 'cheapens democracy'. Well, sorry to tell you, but with the pay to play election financing system, democracy may not be cheap one, but she's certainly already a whore. Luckily, we in Arizona have Clean Elections (if you can keep them), so while we've put the old tart on the dole, she's still not getting a lot of true love.
There are two ways to get anyone to do anything: carrot and sticks. If we aren't going to use the stick and make voting mandatory, as they do in many democracies more robust than our own, we need to try a carrot to focus people's minds. I don't care why people decide to vote, because I firmly believe that almost everyone who actually bothers will exercise their franchise with common sense, if not wisdom.
Frankly, a lottery ticket a fantastic form of psychological judo; it's actually much less of a reward than it seems, just like voting itself. If it gets a few more people to take even a passing interest in public affairs, I'm all for it. Those snobs who would rather not have people voting who are incentivized by the possibility of winning a million bucks because they are likely to be ignorant are ignoring the simple fact the average voter is already blissful with ignorance. It's the magic equation of democracy: the sum total of human folly equals wisdom.
PROP 201: SMOKE-FREE ARIZONA ACT
Initiative Objective: The proposed act would prohibit smoking in
enclosed public places and places of employment with limited exceptions
such as private residences, retail tobacco stores, and outdoor patios.
Enforcement by the Arizona Department of Health Services would be paid
for by a tax on cigarettes of one tenth of one cent per cigarette.
Sponsor: Smoke-Free Arizona, Yes on I-05-2006
The Money: Major contributors for this initiative include the American Cancer Society ($330,000), the American Heart Association ($45,000), the American Lung Association ($70,000), and the AZ Hospital & Healthcare Association ($40,000).
Full Text: Initiative text at sponsor's website
Editorial: As an ex-smoker, I could be a smoke Nazi, or I could be sympathic to the frustrations of smokers who just want the right to quietly and slowly kill themselves in peace. I happen to be the latter. But the overwhelming evidence of the harm done by second-hand smoke pushes me in the direction of not subjecting unwilling citizens to exposure to toxic miasmas in public places.
The exceptions provided in this measure ensure that smokers will be sunburned, damp, and lonely, but they seem sufficient to be humane. If you want to go to a bar and smoke, make sure it has a patio. If you run a bar and want smoking patrons, get a goddamn patio. Really, it's time to put people's right to not be exposed to health hazards in public and in the work-place above people's right to create a health hazard.
PROP 202: ARIZONA MINIMUM WAGE COALITION
Initiative Objective: To amend the Arizona Minimum Wage Act to
raise the minimum wage in Arizona to $6.76 an hour beginning in January
2007 and to provide annual cost of living adjustments afterward.
Sponsor: Arizona Minimum Wage Coalition, Yes on I-13-2006
The Money: This iniative is financed at just under $150K by a coalition of poverty, union, and philanthopic organizations, including ACORN ($10K), AFL-CIO ($10K), The Tides Foundation ($25K), and Arizona's Working Families ($50K).
Full Text: Initiative text at sponsor's website
Editorial: If anything, Prop 202 doesn't go far enough - but it is a good place to start. Raising the minimum wage helps families, helps business (those crazies down at the Chamber of Commerce are just lying through their teeth), and helps reduce the cost of public services for the indigent. Don't be frightened by the horror stories that the fascist corporatists will tell to try to defeat this entirely sane citizen initiative.
PROP 203: FIRST THINGS FIRST FOR AZ'S CHILDREN
Initiative Objective: This initiative would increase funding for
early childhood development and health programs. Local councils would
distribute the majority of the funding, with oversight by a statewide
board subject to audits and other accountability measures. Dedicated
funding would come from an increase on the sales price of tobacco
Sponsor: First Things First for Arizona's Children
The Money: Who the heck doesn't support this initiative is the real question. A broad alliance of all ideological leanings are providing ample funding (approaching 2 million) to pass this initiative, including Wells Fargo ($45K), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona ($50K), Fulton Homes ($250K), Grace Investments ($150K), and slew of wealthy Arizonans including Jimmy Click ($25K) in perhaps the only positive political move he's made to date.
Full Text: Initiative text at sponsor's website (pdf)
Editorial: Oh, come on! Cute babies vs. smelly smokers and evil tobbaco companies? Who do you think will win that popularity contest? And I say, "tax away, baby"! Hey, it's not a sin if it doesn't cost too much, right? Plus, dedicated public health funding that the legislature can't get its grubby little mitts on? Bonus!
PROP 204: HUMANE FARMS
Initiative Objective: To ban veal and sow gestation crates from
Arizona farms. Veal crates have been banned in the United Kingdom and
are in the process of being phased out across the entire EU. Sow
gestation crates have been banned in Florida by similar citizen's
ballot initiative in 2002.
Sponsor: Arizonans for Humane Farms, Coalition of organizations which includes Humane Society of the United States, Arizona Humane Society, Animal Defense League of Arizona, Farm Sanctuary and others.
The Money: As important as who supports this Prop is who is opposing it. Organized as CAMPAIGN FOR AZ FARMERS & RANCHERS AGAINST I-07-2006 is a who's who of agribusiness interests including the Arizona Pork Council ($100K), the American Farm Bureau ($25K), the Arizona Cattle Feeders Association ($10K) and Farm Associations from California to Iowa. In support are the Humane Society ($200K), and the Farm Sanctuary ($140K).
Full Text: Initiative text at sponsor's website
Editorial: The ethical and human treatment of the animals which are destined to become our food is the neccessary foundation of a sustainable agricultural system. This isn't as much about the animal's 'rights' as it is about our own humanity. We need to pay the actual costs of creating our food. The high-density factory husbandry practices that this Proposition restrict may be slightly more cost-efficient than sustainable and ethically sound practices, but it comes with at the hidden cost of untold and easily avoidable pain and suffering of those beings which literally sustain our lives. Prop 204 is a reasonable, proportionate response that simply removes the incentives to mistreat animals for profit that the market imposes on farmers.
PROP 205: YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE
Initiative Objective: The single purpose of this initiative is to
ensure that all registered voters are automatically mailed ballots from
the election official before every election. Automatically mailed
ballots shall be in proper form for voting, have all necessary
instructions and shall be accompanied by a postage paid first class
return envelope to the election official. A limited number of
county-wide polling places shall remain open on election days for on-site voting and for voters to return of automatically mailed ballots.
Sponsor: Your Right to Vote
The Money: Republican radio mogul and Congressional primary opponent of Trent Franks in AZ CD 2, Rick Murphy is the money man for this gig, which he says is inspired by the success of the Oregon program. Mr. Murphy has contributed over $150,000 to the initiative effort so far. Hey, even Republicans can believe in making it easier to vote, can't they?
Full Text: Download PROPOSITION205.pdf
Editorial: There are arguments on both sides of this Prop, but I think the ayes have it. The main argument I hear against this measure is that Vote By Mail (VBM) will introduce new opportunities for voter fraud and coersion. For instance, a person could ensure that a spouse or dependant votes a certain way because the secrecy of the ballot cannot be insured in the home, or could fraudulently fill out ballots belonging to another. I think that such objections and more gedankenexperiments than actual objections. We already have hybrid elections in which large segments of the electorate vote by mail. If this system has serious security problems, we need to address it anyhow; perhaps an all VBM system will provide the political incentive to address its particular security issues in a comprehensive manner.
Oregon's experiment with VBM elections have had five years to draw conclusions from a functional state-wide system. We should pay heed to those positive results, as well as the need for further improvements from that on-going experiment, rather than just hypothesize about the possible effects of VBM in Arizona. When you look at the judgement of experts on the Oregon experiment, the results are overwhelmingly positive. VBM has significantly increased voter participation and allowed election officials to focus more resources on voter support. Nostalgia for the excitement of election day causes many to cling to the notion of voting as a collective ritual. The reality is that voting is now an individual act taken over an extended period of time. This new reality will change the way that candidates campaign, possibly making campaigning more engaging and informative.
We've seen too many voters disenfrachised in recent elections by long waits at the polls because of decisions taken by election officials intended to discriminate against voters in certain locales. One would think that making effective use of the franchise dependent upon so many logistical factors out of the voters' control would give many citizens pause. Putting the power to vote more firmly outside the control of local election officials and into the hands of voters is manifestly a good thing. VBM also makes most issues regarding the security of polling machines and paper trails moot. VBM has security issues of it own, but the simple fact is that when fraud occurs in a VBM election there is evidence of the crime to be uncovered: with a digital voting machine, there very well may not be.
PROP 206: NON-SMOKER PROTECTION ACT
Initiative Objective: This initiative would prohibit smoking in
enclosed public places and places of employment, except bars and
tobacco shops. Minors would not be permitted in any part of a bar or
tobacco shop that permits smoking. Signs must notify patrons and
employees where smoking is permitted. If part of a larger business, the
bars and tobacco shops must be separated by floor to ceiling partitions
and separate ventilation systems.
Sponsor: Non-Smoker Protection Committee
The Money: Arizona Licensed Beverage Association ($11,00), R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company ($10,000)
Status: Pending Verification of Signatures
Full Text: Initiative text at sponsor's website (pdf)
Editorial: An eggregious case of astroturfing in an attempt by industry to extract more favorable terms with a similar, but less restrictive, initiative. Don't be taken in.
PROP 207: PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECTION ACT
Initiative Objective: To protect private property by defining public
use to mean only the public will own and use the land and declares that
the public benefits of economic development, including increased tax
revenues and employment, shall not constitute a public use and to
require that Arizona citizens receive just compensation if they lose
their property or lose the value of their property when government
takes or enacts a law that diminishes the value of private property.
Sponsor: AZ Home Owners Protection Effort (AZ-HOPE)
The Money: Over $750,000 has been contributed by Americans for Limited Government, a far right Republican astroturfing operation aligned with The Club for Growth and Townhall.com, financed primarily by right wing New York real estate developer Howard Rich. You really think anyone spends that much money shovelling something at voters without an ulterior profit motive?
Full Text: Initiative text at sponsor's website
Editorial: This initiative is probably the most deceptive, and thus the most dangerous, measure on the ballot. Prop 207 is a Trojan horse for extremists views in a package of populist outrage. It uses a broadly appealing, and justified, populist backlash against the misuse of eminent domain for private gain (see the recent Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London) to sneak through legal changes that the untra-conservative and ultra-wealthy have been relentlessly seeking for many years. Embedded in what purports to be a populist measure to protect people's homes from unscrupulous redevelopment interests is a poison pill of extremist property rights language that would wreak havok on the ability of our state and local governments to make and enforce environmental protections and engage in urban planning.
A long-held conservative dream has been to install a fetishized form of private property protection into American law. The idea usually rides under the banner of 'Regulatory Takings'. Under this theory of the takings clause, any law passed by the government which reduces either the current or future value of a property, must be compensated as if the government had actually condemned a portion of that property and as if those future interests were actual assets. Currently, the law requires compensation only for destruction of present value, or for destruction of all future value; whereas Prop 207's language would make any dimunition of future value a compensable taking. Seems like a fine point, but environmental laws and urban planning become impossibly expensive to implement under such a property regime, and that's exactly how 'Regulatory Takings' advocates want it.
Within the text of this measure, lies a ticking time-bomb of extremist 'Regulatory Takings' language:
12-1134. Diminution in value; just compensation.
A. If THE existing rightS to use, divide, sell or possess private real property ARE reduced by the ENACTMENT OR APPLICABILITY OF aNY land use law enacted AFTER THE DATE THE PROPERTY IS TRANSFERRED TO THE OWNER and such action reduces the fair market value of the property THE OWNER is entitled to just compensation FROM THIS STATE OR THE POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE THAT ENACTED THE LAND USE LAW.
With this language, property rights extremists would accomplish what decades of litigation and lobbying had been unable to create: the perfect tool to defeat the protection of critical habitats and species, urban planning and zoning, and any other law related to the use of land.
I have sympathy for the idea that the states should cabin the effect of the Kelo decision. Governments should not be able to take people's private dwellings and destroy existing communities to theoretically increase tax revenues, or to line the pockets of private developers. If this measure was reasonably related to accomplishing that goal, I would be recommending that people vote for it. But this measure has obviously been hijacked by extremists whose primary goal is not the good of Arizona's communities nor the rights of home owners. If passed by the voters, we will find it difficult indeed to repeal this terrible deception.
Because the Kelo eminent domain issue has such popular appeal, and this terrible lie is wrapped within that appealing package, Prop 207 is the most serious threat to Arizona's voters this election. There are other terrible ideas on the ballot, no doubt, but none of them are so deceptive to the average voter. Defeating this measure will require a massive grassroots effort to educate voters as to why Prop 207 is not in their interest. We have plenty of time to create real eminent domain reform (even Prop 207's authors could only find one plausible example of such a taking to put in their findings section, so this is not an epidemic of abuse), and we should demand that our legislators craft a reasonable and well-considered law to protect home owners from abuses of eminent domain. But if the voters approve 'Regulatory Takings' doctrine by initiative, it could do incalcuable damage to our environment and to our ability to plan for urban growth for many years to come.
Dan Patterson also has a great blog entry on this evil poison pill meaure.
A coalition of Arizona cities and public interest organizations just failed to have this prop stricken from the ballot for failure to specify the sources for new spending mandated by the measure. Likely the measure will face legal challenge again if Arizona's voters are tricked into passing this dog.
PROP 300: PUBLIC PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY
Referendum Objective: This proposition would prohibit adults who are not citizens or legal residents of the United States from taking classes offered by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Division of Adult Education (Division) or receiving child care assistance from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) and would prohibit in-state student or county resident status to persons who are not citizens or who lack lawful immigration status pursuant to federal law.
Full Text: SCR 1031
Editorial: If you are stupid enough to believe that Mexico's tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free are going to stay home because they can't get free ESL instruction and day care in the land of the free and the home of the brave, you might consider voting for this measure. Otherwise, you'll see it as more of the mean-spirited, misguided, hate-based politics the Arizona GOP seems to specialize in.
PROP 301: PROBATION FOR METHAMPHETAMINE OFFENSES
Referendum Objective: This proposition would amend the Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act of 1996 so that a person who is convicted for the first time of personal possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia involving methamphetamine is not eligible for probation under the personal possession or use laws and is subject to incarceration. The person may be eligible for probation pursuant to the general probation laws for convicted persons.
Full Text: SCR 1033
Editorial: This measure would prevent any defendant who was charged with a first-time drug offense involving meth from particpating in the DMPCA's diversion program. Such persons would become ineligible for drug treatment and automatic probation. The GOP majority wants to look like they are doing something about meth, so their response is to wooden-headedly attempt to stiffen the penalties on users and addicts. This approach hasn't worked in the entire decades-long 'Drug War', what makes them think it will work now?
Meth is highly addictive - more so than most other drugs. If you don't attempt treatment the first chance you get, you may never get another chance. To make you think they are doing something to combat meth, the GOP majority is willing to throw away the lives of your fellow citizens, without even trying to save them. Instead, they want to throw these people into our already over-crowded prisons, on your dime. How many other varieties of stupid do I need to point out to justify voting 'No'?
PROP 302: STATE LEGISLATORS' SALARIES
Referendum Objective: The Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers recommends the salaries of legislators be increased to $36,000.
Sponsor: Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers
Full text: On Secretary of State's website
Editorial: You might be surprised to see a green check by this one given the esteem I have for our legislature. If so, you mistake me. I have the highest esteem for the people who serve in the legislature, especially the Democrats who show up, work their asses off to have any effect on policy, and get little credit and less respect. It's not a job I would want. And that's the problem. The more it becomes possible for a citizen to decide to become a legislator, and actually be able to support him- or herself and a family with that calling, the larger the pool of potential citizen representatives we can draw from. By making the position financially a part-time proposition, we dramatically narrow the talent pool we can utilize. We certainly do get the legislature we pay for. I think that legislative salaries ought to be indexed to the median household income of Arizona: this year, that would be around 58K. It would encourage raising all the boats by aligning the personal interests of legislators with, literally, the average Arizonan. 36K still isn't enough, but it's a start.
If you'll be needing college loans to help fund your goal of being a student then taking some time to research personal student loans can be of great help, as well as check if Arizona student loans are available to you.