Republicans who control the Arizona House on Thursday passed two measures that dramatically tighten rules on how citizen initiatives make the ballot and how they can be challenged, adding to a previously passed law restricting how initiative petition circulators can be paid. Together, the action by the Legislature reassembles a major catch-all bill pushed early in the year by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry in response to the passage of a minimum wage increase. Republican backers and the Chamber call the measures needed reforms to the initiative process. Democrats and voting rights groups call them an all-out assault on the initiative process that has been in place since statehood. No Democrats voted for the measures, and all Republicans voted yes.
“We have before us one of the gravest decisions we will ever make here,” Democratic Rep. Ken Clark of Phoenix as the House debated one of the bills. “And that is whether to effectively shut down the initiative process for all but … the richest interests inside and outside the state.”
… The Chamber and Republicans have been upset for years about initiatives they say tie the hands of the Legislature because of a Constitutional amendment known as the Voter Protection Act. That law bars lawmakers from changing most initiative-created laws, unless they “further the purpose” and pass with a ¾ vote in the House and Senate.