Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Arizona lawmakers move to overturn Voter Protection Act

Earlier this month HCR2043 was introduced by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler. Here's what it would do (from the AZ Daily Star).

Nearly two decades after voters blocked state lawmakers from tinkering with ballot measures, the Legislature is trying to take the power back.

A measure crafted by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, would allow lawmakers to update, alter and even repeal what voters enact as long as they do it by the same margin the measure was enacted.

So if a proposal gets the approval of 60 percent of voters, it could be repealed by 18 of the 30 senators and 36 of 60 representatives.

What it also means, said Mesnard, is if something was approved at the ballot by a bare majority, it then could be undone by a simple majority of lawmakers. Now it requires the consent of three-fourths of both chambers, meaning 23 senators and 45 representatives.

Potentially more significant, what would allow that to happen is the other half of what is in HCR 2043: It would remove the constitutional requirement that lawmakers can only make changes that “further the purpose” of what voters approved in the first place.

Related bills attacking the Voter Protection Act are HCR2023, HCR2024, and HCR2047.

The safeguard in all this is that all four measures, if they survive the legislative process, could take effect only if approved by voters in November.

At issue is the ongoing tension between the century-old right of voters to make their own laws and some legislators’ contention that they need better control over the laws.

Yesterday, a house panel approved HCR2043 and it is now headed to the full House. The Prescott Daily Courier reports.

Doris Provine, president of the Arizona Advocacy Network, dubbed the measure the "voter-underminer bill."

Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Phoenix, one of two members of the committee who voted against the proposal, said it might be worthwhile to look at loosening some of the restrictions now on lawmakers. But Larkin said he could not support this measure, saying legislators need to "show respect towards the voters."

Respect for the voters? Since when have the Phouls in Phoenix ever respected the voters? What triggered all this is the authoritarian actions of the state legislature back in the 90's. Now they are back at it with blatant attempts exemplified by these bills to achieve autocratic rule. The GOP majority is likely to pass some or all of these bills. So absent their defeat in the AZ legislature the best we can hope for is a pricey ballot initiative fight in November.

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