Path to 2024 ballot, passage of tax hikes face changes thanks to passage of two measures

As Arizona nears the official canvass of the Nov. 8 General Election, special interests are already assessing how their path to the ballot in 2024 might be different thanks to passage of two propositions. 

Voters passed Proposition 129 with 55% of the vote. The measure, which was referred to the ballot by the state Legislature, requires that citizen ballot initiatives be limited only to one subject. 

A single-subject rule applies to the bills considered by the state Legislature, so Proposition 129’s passage brings the initiative process into alignment with the regular legislative process. The Legislature’s failure to adhere to its single-subject rule resulted in several provisions of the state budget adopted in 2021 being tossed out under a court challenge.

Proposition 129 was strongly supported by the business community. 

“Proposition 129 ensures that out-of-state special interests can’t use Arizona’s ballot box to cram unrelated policies into a proposition without voters being at least accurately informed about each policy,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said. “Prop. 129 protects the integrity of the initiative system by requiring that an initiative stick to a single subject and stops special interests from hiding parts of their agenda.”

Another reform to the ballot initiative process adopted by voters on Election Day involves initiatives that ask voters to institute a new tax or raise an existing one. 

Proposition 132 amends the state constitution to require that initiatives that would institute a new tax or raise taxes must now pass with at least 60% of votes cast, rather than just a simple majority.

Passage of the proposition brings tax initiatives into alignment with a supermajority requirement that already applies to the state Legislature, which also requires tax increases to pass with at least two-thirds of the votes cast in the state House and Senate. Voters instituted the two-thirds vote requirement with passage of Proposition 108 in 1992. 

Arizona’s business community and Governor Doug Ducey supported Proposition 132’s passage. 

“Years ago, Arizonans wisely passed Prop 108 that requires a supermajority vote of the legislature to pass any tax increase. It’s only fair that at the ballot, we have the same protections: a 60% threshold to pass any tax hike on hardworking Arizonans,” Gov. Ducey said. 

The Chamber’s Seiden said, “Arizona’s current system is highly attractive to special interests seeking to game the system to push through tax hikes that they would not be able to pass through traditional legislative means. Moreover, Arizona law makes it virtually impossible to fix the often-unintended consequences of laws passed at the ballot.”

Due to voters’ passage of Proposition 105 in 1998, laws passed by voters cannot be amended by the Legislature without a three-fourths vote of each legislative chamber and only if the amendment “furthers the purpose” of the original measure. A ballot measure in 2022 intended to loosen the constraints on the Legislature’s ability to amend a voter-approved initiative in cases where a portion of the law was found to be unconstitutional was rejected by voters. 

Special interests are already gearing up for 2024, with a group seeking to raise the minimum wage and to remove the credit granted to employers for employees who earn tips having already filed a petition.

Humaira Zafari

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