Arizona legislators move to create new hurdles for initiative petitions

State measure would require signatures from five counties
2013-03-04T00:00:00Z Arizona legislators move to create new hurdles for initiative petitionsHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
March 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - State lawmakers are pushing ahead with new hurdles for those who want to propose their own laws and constitutional amendments.

The state Senate is set to vote today on SCR 1019, which would require petition circulators to gather signatures from at least five different counties. And at least 25 percent of the names needed to qualify would have to come from outside Maricopa and Pima counties.

Currently, initiative organizers are free to set up shop and get all the names from one county.

On a related topic, the House Judiciary Committee voted last week to alter the deadline for getting those signatures filed with the secretary of state.

The current cutoff is early July of election years. SCR 1006, which already has been approved by the full Senate, would move that up to May.

Senators also voted last week to put new rules in place for recall elections in the wake of the ouster in 2011 of Senate President Russell Pearce.

The proposal to shorten the filing time was on the ballot in 2012, losing by a narrow margin.

Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, said the current July deadline creates a crunch, giving courts little time to consider legal challenges. The result in 2012 was cases going to the Arizona Supreme Court just days before ballots were set to be printed.

Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, said if circulators have less time, then lawmakers should reduce signature requirements.

It currently takes 172,809 signatures to propose a new or amended statute. Constitutional amendments now require 259,213 signatures.

Those numbers are based on turnout at the last gubernatorial election. That means the state's increasing population, coupled with efforts to register more voters, will only boost that number.

All the measures still need a final roll-call vote in the Senate before going to the House.

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/politics to read more about local and state government and political news.

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