Jon Kyl to moderate panel on Arizona’s initiative process

The Arizona Junior Fellows, a project of the Arizona Chamber Foundation, has partnered with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University to host a panel of distinguished guests to discuss Arizona’s initiative process.

The event, “Is Arizona’s Initiative Process Ripe For Reform?”, features state and national leaders who will discuss the history and purpose of Arizona’s citizen initiative process, how the process has been used since its inception and whether the current process is utilized more by organized interests rather than Arizona residents. 

The panelists will also examine the inherent conflicts between direct and representative democracy, the use of direct democracy across the country, and trends in policymaking at the ballot box followed by a Q&A with attendees.


The discussion will be led by former U.S. Senator for Arizona Jon Kyl, who is currently a Distinguished Fellow in Public Service in ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and an O’Connor Distinguished Scholar of Law and Public Service at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Senator Kyl is also co-teaching a course in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership entitled Debates in American Civic and Public Affairs with Professor Sean Beienburg.

The panel will feature: 

  • Dr. John Leshy, Emeritus Harry D. Sunderland Distinguished Professor of Real Property Law at the UC Hastings College of Law. Leshy served as the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior throughout the Clinton Administration and is the author of “The Making of the Arizona Constitution” and “The Arizona State Constitution.” 
  • Robert Robb, an editorial columnist at the Arizona Republic with over 40 years of experience in Arizona politics and founding director of the Goldwater Institute.
  • Hon. Maria Baier of Great Hearts USA, whose public service includes a cabinet position as Arizona State Land Commissioner and as a member of the Phenix City Council prior to her appointment as land commissioner.

The paper that sparked the conversation

In December 2020, the Arizona Junior Fellows published a white paper titled “From Idea to Law: Arizona’s Initiative Process,” which provided a historical overview of the state’s unique initiative process as well as its benefits and deficiencies. After the passage of recent ballot propositions to legalize marijuana and increase income taxes on small businesses, the topic of initiative reform had become a relevant issue, with multiple bills on the subject being proposed at the Arizona Legislature.

Future of Arizona Democracy

The event is the first of a series entitled The Future of Arizona Democracy Project.

The Future of Arizona Democracy Project invites academics, political figures, elected officials, subject-matter experts, and private sector leaders to discuss solutions to the challenges confronting Arizona’s democracy. The project focuses on the electoral system, initiative and law-making process, and civic education necessary to build a stronger foundation for our civic wellbeing.

You can find out more about this new project here.

Event details

The event is at 5:00 pm on Monday, April 12th via Zoom. To RSVP, visit the registration page here

For updates and further information, follow the Arizona Junior Fellows on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Stephen Matter

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