VOL. 18  ISSUE NO. 39   |  SEPTEMBER 26 – OCTOBER 2, 2012


Propositions not always what they’re labeled

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voter infoClick here for detailed Ballot Measures

Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1020 will appear on the ballot as Proposition (Prop) 114, Crime Victim Protection from Liability for Damages, and in straight-forward, simple language proposes to amend the Arizona Constitution so that crime victims cannot be subject to a claim for damages by a person who is harmed while attempting to engage in, engaging in or fleeing after having engaged in or attempted to engage in conduct classified as a felony offense.

Prop 115, which is being supported by former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and host of individuals who say they’ve been damaged by the state’s probate court system is the result of SCR 1001, amending numerous sections of the Arizona Constitution as it relates to the Judicial Department.

Prop 115 establishes terms for judges, raises the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75, changes the makeup of the nonpartisan commission on court appointments, would require all applications for commission appointments be forwarded to the governor in addition to those being recommended, raises the requirement for attorney members of the commission to be members in good standing of the State Bar of Arizona from five years to 10 years and with no formal sanctions as the result of disciplinary complaints, and makes every written opinion or order issued by a judge that resolves a contested matter of law (that is not sealed or confidential) to be electronically accessible to the public through the Arizona Supreme Court’s website.

The proposition’s 13 pages makes a variety of other changes that Thomas says is a good first step to cleaning up Arizona’s judiciary.

Prop 116, the result of SCR 1012, will amend the Arizona Constitution relating to Property Tax Exemptions.

It would amend the exemption for personal property used for agricultural purposes, by excluding any amount of the full cash value of the personal property of a taxpayer that “exceeds an amount that is equal to the annual earnings of fifty workers in this state according to a designated national measure of earnings per employee adjusted annually.”

The exemption would apply to the personal property of a taxpayer that is initially acquired during or after tax year 2013.

Prop 117, Property Tax Assessed Valuation, is the result of SCR 1025 and amends the Arizona Constitution relating to the assessed valuation of real property.

While Prop 117 proponents claim the amendments will limit property taxes, a careful reading of the bill proves that isn’t the case.

Beginning in tax year 2015, it states, “For the purposes of taxes levied … The value of real property and improvements, including mobile homes, used for all ad valorem taxes shall be the lesser of the full cash value of the property or an amount five percent greater than the value of property determined to this subsection for the prior year.”

There is no provision for limiting the tax rate, the other half of the equation, which is up to the taxing authority, plus it now includes mobile homes for the purpose of assessing improvements to property.

Prop 118, Establishment of Permanent Funds, is another constitutional amendment proposed by the legislature through House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 2056.

The amendment appears to simplify the method under which the board of investment determines the amount of annual distributions to allocate.

It states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the annual distribution from the permanent funds for fiscal years 2012-2013 through 20120-2021 shall be two and one-half percent of the average monthly market values of the fund for the immediately preceding five calendar years.”

Prop 119, relating to state trust lands, was also a component of SCR 1001 and amends the Arizona Constitution to require that the legislature provide a process by law for exchanging public lands granted or confirmed by the Enabling Act.

It requires the exchange either assist in preserving or protecting military facilities from encroaching development, or improve the management of state lands for the purpose of sale, lease or conversion to public use of state lands.

Prop 119 requires at least two independent analyses of the proposed exchange be made available to the public, showing the income to the trust before the exchange and the projected income to the trust after the exchange from all lands the state receives; the fiscal impact of the exchange on each county, city, town and school district in which all the lands involved are located; and the physical, economic and natural resource impacts of the proposed exchange on the surrounding or adjacent local community, and the impacts on local land uses and land use plans.

The language prohibits land exchanges that are not in the best interest of the state land trust and requires full disclosure of all details of the parcels involved in the public notice, including the ownership of all parcels of land involved in the exchange, the legal description, general location and appraised value of all parcels.

The process requires public hearings and approval by qualified electors.

It appears Prop 119 could benefit Cave Creek, for one, as the rezoning changes the town made with respect to state land, primarily in the annexation area on the west side of town, will compensate the state land trust by bringing higher prices at auction in exchange for land zoned as open space.

Prop 120, placed on the ballot via HCR 2004, addresses state sovereignty and declares exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries with the exception of territory established as Indian Reservations by the federal government or lands of the United States over which jurisdiction has been ceded.

Proposition 121, titled “Open Elections/Open Government” was placed on the ballot through the initiative process spearheaded by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson.

After a few court battles over the questionable legality of numerous petition gatherers to place the initiative on the ballot, the court ruled in favor of the Johnson.

Prop 121 claims it will “allow all Arizonans, regardless of party affiliation, to vote in a single open primary for the candidates of their choice,” sending the two candidates who received the most votes in the primary to compete in the general election.

In reality, it will eliminate all third party candidates from ever appearing on a ballot in the general election and could essentially place two members of the same party running against each other in the general election.

The Goldwater Institute argued in an amicus brief the initiative violates the single subject rule, because while it claims to only affect primary elections it affects the general election process as well.

Last, there’s Prop 204, an initiative titled, “Quality Education and Jobs Act” placed on the ballot through the efforts of Ann-Eve Pederson.

The initiative has relatively little to do with quality jobs or education. It has to do with raiding the general fund for special interests.

Prop 204 would make the temporary one cent sales tax permanent, but its purpose is far removed from the sales tax’s original intent while removing budgeting discretion of certain funds from the legislative process.

The initiative requires 50 percent of the performance measurements to consist of measures of academic progress, with 25 percent of the performance measurements to be based on “parental satisfaction” and 25 percent based on “student engagement.”

It’s not clear from reading the initiative how these performance measurements will be established.

The initiative mandates “The legislature shall not reduce future state general fund appropriations for each of the three universities below the greater of the amount appropriated in fiscal years 2011-2012 or 2012-2013.”

Prop 204 adds a section prohibiting the legislature from reverting, sweeping or transferring vehicle license tax monies to any other fund.

It prohibits the same for the Arizona highway user revenue fund, except it allows those monies to be used to fund the Highway Patrol Division.

The initiative provides additional funding for state infrastructure that may be used for funding planning, designing, engineering, constructing, improving, financing or maintaining state highway rest stops, streets, bridges, roadways and parking facilities; public transportation and passenger rail systems; areas for pedestrian, bicycle or other non-motor vehicle use; landscaping for streets or highways; buildings and facilities; lighting systems, communications facilities, energy conservation systems; traffic control systems; land clearance; equipment, vehicles, furnishing and personnel related to the items listed; make payments in connection with public-private partnerships relating to transportation projects; fund environmentally sensitive designs; fund wildlife improvement projects that are disrupted by transportation projects; and more.

There’s a new section establishing the “Human Services Self-Sufficiency Fund” allowing the governor to use up to 1 percent of all monies in the fund for administrative costs and allocate monies annually to state agencies or private nonprofit entities to provide services for the basic needs of children, families and vulnerable adults whose household income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

This doesn’t begin to describe even half of what Prop 204 proposes.

To read the full language of all the propositions, visit http://azsos.gov/election/2012/General/ballotmeasures.htm

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