Just days after Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new law opponents said will make it harder for citizen initiatives to make the ballot, Republican Arizona lawmakers are reviving stripped parts of that legislation that will make it much easier for opponents to challenge initiatives in court. The new proposal changes the legal standard required to keep an initiative off the ballot. It says the language in the proposed measure is subject to a “strict compliance” standard rather than “substantial compliance.” That will allow citizen’s initiative to be thrown out for mere paperwork or language errors, even if the proposed law complies with other respects to the law. The “substantial compliance” standard now in place allows such minor errors if the intent of measure remains clear.
“If people are going to put an initiative on the ballot that will either change our Constitution or change our statutes and the Legislature doesn’t have realistically a way to change, I think there should be strict compliance,” said Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, who is allowing the new language to be put on a bill in her Appropriations Committee.
And there may be more elements that were stripped out of the legislation Ducey signed last week that emerge, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said.
“Yeah, there could be more — people are talking about it now, what pieces,” Mesnard said. “Mainly to give options, in other words to have them pass through committee. I don’t want something mashed in on the floor.”