Help Stop Attacks on Animal Protection Initiatives!Posted on , updated on
We need your help to stop a slew of bills in the Arizona Legislature that are aimed at dismantling our state’s public initiative and referendum process. These measures, if passed, would devastate citizen initiative campaigns. One measure (HCR 2002) could even enable the Legislature to overturn animal protection laws already passed by voters.
Many of you volunteered with grassroots ballot measure campaigns over the past three decades, and know that Arizona’s citizen initiative process is our most important tool for protecting animals. Thanks to citizen initiatives, Arizona voters banned leg-hold traps and poisons on public lands in 1994; cockfighting was outlawed in 1998; and in 2006 voters prohibited the inhumane confinement of pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal in factory farms. In 1998, voters passed the Voter Protection Act to prevent the Legislature from overturning or weakening initiatives.
There have been several referenda placed on the ballot that could have destroyed the public initiative process, but voters overwhelmingly defeated all of them, indicating the strong determination of citizens to defend voting rights. As the latest poll results indicate, Arizona voters strongly support animal protection and our public initiative process. Despite all of these factors, the Arizona Legislature continually attempts to weaken or overturn citizen initiatives, indicating how out of touch lawmakers are with the will of their constituents.
Today, the constitutional rights of Arizona voters are under the most intense legislative attack we have seen. In fact one of the proposed bills could even repeal voter-passed laws that ban trapping and poison on public lands, cockfighting, and the confinement of farm animals.
Volunteer lobbyists with Animal Defense League of Arizona and Humane Voters of Arizona have met with lawmakers and have testified at committee hearings in opposition to these bills, but it is most important that legislators hear directly from their constituents.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The Arizona House of Representatives could vote on these measures at any time. Please
contact your two House members and ask them to vote No on HCR 2002, HCR 2007, HCR 2029, HB 2255, HB 2320, and HB 2404. Be sure to mention that you are a resident in their district. If were involved in initiative campaigns, let them know that you volunteered and tell them how important citizen initiative rights are to you.
You can contact your two House members here. If you are not sure who your legislators are, click on ‘Find My Legislator‘ and go to the link where you enter your address. You can then select legislators to find their contact information. You can call and leave a message day or night. Please let us know if you receive a response from your representatives, or if you have questions about legislation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Legislature is seeking to undermine citizen initiatives and weaken the Voter Protection Act through the following bills. It is important to note that none of these measures would apply to candidates when they gather signatures to get on the ballot.
HCR 2002 repeal 1998 proposition 105 (Ugenti-Rita) refers to the ballot a measure to repeal the Voter Protection Act, a constitutional provision that prevents the Legislature from weakening or overturning measures passed by voters. If passed, this bill could even repeal voter-passed laws that ban trapping and poisons on public lands, cockfighting, and confinement of farm animals. You can watch bill committee hearing here.
HCR 2007 proposition 105; exempt referenda (Ugenti-Rita) refers to the ballot a measure to exempt referenda from the provisions of the Voter Protection Act that limit the Arizona Legislature’s ability to weaken and defund these measures. This could enable legislators to re-enact a measure that was just voted down by citizens.
HCR 2029 signatures; initiative; referendum; legislative districts (Shooter) refers to the ballot a measure to require citizen initiative campaigns to collect signatures from 10 percent of electors from each legislative district. Currently, initiative campaigns must submit signatures from 10 percent of all voters statewide, not in each of the 30 legislative districts. This would make it virtually impossible for grassroots groups to place citizen initiatives or referenda on the ballot.
HB 2255 ballot measures; contributions; nonresidents; prohibition (Thorpe) prohibits contributions to ballot measures from non-Arizona residents and non-Arizona organizations. This would prevent animal protection organizations that are based out-of-state but have active staff and members here from contributing to Arizona ballot measures.
HB 2320 ballot measures; proposition 105 disclosures (Ugenti-Rita) requires a warning on advertising, the publicity pamphlet, and the ballot stating that “the measure can only be changed in the future by a three-fourths vote in the legislature and if the change furthers the purpose of the original ballot measure.” This bill is no more than a veiled scare tactic to dissuade voters from supporting citizen initiatives.
HB 2404 initiatives; circulators; signature collection; contests (Leach), is the most dangerous of all of the statutory measures. The bill creates numerous impediments that would make it much more difficult (if not impossible) for citizens to get a measure on the ballot, which is already an arduous undertaking. It changes our current adequate standard of substantial compliance for initiatives to strict compliance, which could enable large amounts of signatures to be tossed out on a technicality. It also sets up numerous roadblocks for paid petition signature gatherers which would drive up the cost for initiative campaigns. Worse yet the bill holds the group that hires signature gatherers liable for their actions and subject to a $10,000 fine for each violation. While wealthy groups might be able to afford the cost increase, it would devastate grassroots groups. You can watch Scott Bonsall-Cargill with Humane Voters of AZ oppose the bill here.
The full House could vote on these bills at any time so please take action now!
Thank you for speaking for Arizona’s animals!
Animal Defense League of Arizona