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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arizona, I Have a Proposition for You

For those of you who don't live in Arizona, please forgive me for interrupting your regularly scheduled blog.  It's only one day.

For you who live in Arizona, the following is a list of propositions that will be on your election ballot next Tuesday.  If you're like me and didn't do the smart thing by voting early, this might be helpful so you aren't standing at the voting booth for an hour trying to figure out what these propositions mean.  I promise - this information is NOT partisan.  It just presents a summary of ballot propositions without opinion.  Here goes:

Prop. 114 - Amend Arizona Constitution to prohibit people who commit or attempt to commit felonies from recovering damages in a lawsuit against the crime victim.  (The Arizona Constitution generally does not limit recovery of damages in a lawsuit, so this would be a new exception). 

Prop. 115 - Amend Arizona Constitution regarding the tenure and selection of judges.  Judges would serve of more years than they currently do.  Judge retirement age would be raised to 75.  The selection process would include a commission with a greater number of members chosen by the Governor and less by the State Bar.

Prop. 116 - Amend Arizona Constitution to change the method of exempting business property (non-real estate) from taxation.  The value of business property equal to the wages of 50 Arizona workers would be exempt from taxation.  The wages would be determined by a national measure as chosen by the Arizona Legislature.

Prop. 117 - Amend Arizona Constitution to limit assessment of property for tax purposes.  Assessments would be based on the lesser of the full cash value of the property or a 5% increase from the previous year.

Prop. 118 - Under the Enabling Act to create the State of Arizona, the federal government gave Arizona certain land (known as State Lands) to support education in the state.  Proposition 118 would amend Arizona Constitution to change the formula for providing state funding from the permanent fund established from proceeds from leasing or selling State Land.  The formula change would be temporary through 2021.

Prop. 119 - Amend Arizona Constitution to allow for exchanges of State Land under certain circumstances.  There are a number of prerequisites to a land exchange, including a vote by the voters of Arizona to approve the specific land exchange.

Prop. 120 - Amend Arizona Constitution to declare Arizona sovereign over its air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources in the state.  This attempts to limit or supersede federal law regarding the environment.

Prop. 121 - Amend Arizona Constitution to provide for a single open primary instead of two party primaries.  The top two vote getters from the open primary (even if both from the same party) would be the candidates in the general election.  This would apply to all elections (local, state and federal) with the exception of the election for President of the United States.

Prop. 204 - Amend Arizona Statutes to permanently increase the state sales tax by 1 cent to 6.6%.  The tax increase was enacted two years ago as a temporary measure to fund education and would otherwise expire without this proposition.  The beneficiaries of the tax would be various state education funds and to a lesser extent, several other state funds, including ADOT.

If you want more information about propositions, including statements supporting and opposing each proposition, check out the Secretary of State's website.

As an attorney, I get lots of questions from family and friends about which judges should be retained.  I don't appear much in court anymore, so I'm not a good judge of judges :)  However, there is a guide put out by the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance that might be helpful.  Please make sure to vote for (or against) judicial retention.

So that's about it.  I'm not a big fan of ballot propositions, and for those of you like me who moved to Arizona from an eastern state, these are totally foreign animals.  However, it's very important to vote on these propositions, as most of them affect the Arizona Constitution.  

No matter how you vote, it's important that you vote.  You might have to stand in line or miss some work or get up early, but it's one of our primary responsibilities as Americans and a right that our forefathers (and mothers) fought so earnestly to achieve.

God bless America.