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7/5/2012 9:56:00 PM
Petitions filed for 2 Arizona ballot measures
The Associated Press


PHOENIX (AP) - Initiative petitions filed Thursday would allow Arizonans to vote in November on one ballot measure to dramatically change the state's primary election system and another that would set the stage for possible constitutional challenges to actions by the federal government.

Supporters of the primary election changes said that measure would provide voters with a louder voice and reduce the impact of ideological extremes, while the businessman bankrolling the campaign for the states' rights measure said he needed to take a stand for fellow citizens.

Both proposals would go on the November ballot if officials determine backers submitted the required number of voter signatures on petitions and if the measures survive possible court challenges. Thursday was the filing deadline.

The initiatives measures would join seven measures already referred to the November statewide ballot by the Legislature. Those also include a states' rights measure. Other topics include property taxes, trust land and crime victims.

In addition, there's a wild card in the form of a proposed initiative measure for a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase to provide additional state funding for education and other services. Its supporters already filed initiative petitions but Secretary of State Ken Bennett said a paperwork flaw disqualified the measure. A lawsuit to overturn his decision is pending in court.

Under the primary election measure, any voter regardless of party affiliation could vote for any candidate for an office on a future primary election ballot. And the two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary election would advance to the general election, regardless of partisan affiliation.

Currently, a voter registered with a party can only vote for primary election candidates in that party, though independents can pick a party's ballot and choose among candidates on it. And now, only the top vote-getter from each party advances to the general election.

The primary election measure is similar to laws in California and Washington state and is backed by business leaders, developers and union officials.

Supporters say the new system would foster election of candidates more willing to work cooperatively with each other on mainstream concerns such as education and economic development, partly by spurring competition in election districts where voter registration favors one party.

That would mean ideological extremes would have less of an impact because more candidates would have to pay attention to all voters, said the campaign's chairman, former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson.

"You always have a runoff," said Johnson, an independent who unsuccessfully ran for governor as a Democrat in 1998. "The goal is to give everyone a choice in every election, and today that doesn't exist."

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey condemned the primary election proposal as trampling on rights of voters "who deserve meaningful choices among candidates."

"Our current system of party primaries is the best way to give voters the option of distinctive candidates," Morrissey said in a statement released by a party spokesman.

The state Democratic Party's leadership hasn't taken a position on the ballot measure so far but may, spokesman Frank Camacho said. "There's some good about it. There are some concerns."

The so-called "checks and balances in government" measure championed by businessman Jack Biltis would allow the state to "reject" any federal action that either the voters or the Legislature and the governor deem to be unconstitutional.

The three-sentence measure said it would protect freedoms and "preserve the checks and balances of the United States Constitution."

Arizona State University law professor Paul Bender said Biltis' proposal would have no legal effect if approved by voters because it would be trumped by the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause. That clause holds that federal laws are the highest laws of the land.

A state cannot strike down or ignore a federal law, said Bender, who teaches state and federal constitutional law.

"States are not empowered ... to partially secede from the union. States don't have the power to pick and choose what legislation they pay attention to," he said.

Biltis, the owner of a company that provides back-office functions such as payroll services to businesses, said Thursday his proposal stems from his personal concerns that government is growing out of control.

"The states have to act as a check on the federal government," he said Thursday.

He cited the federal health care overhaul and the Patriot Act, a federal anti-terrorist law enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks, as examples of overreaching by the federal government.

Biltis said Thursday he has spent about $1.2 million to get the measure on the ballot, mostly for consultants and petition circulators.

The primary election measure's backers reported raising $702,071. The largest single source was a $150,000 loan from Johnson, a developer.

The primary election and states' rights measures are both proposed constitutional amendments, and supporters had to submit 253,213 voter signatures to qualify them for the ballot. The primary election measures' backers said they submitted 365,486. Biltis said his campaign submitted approximately 320,000.



Related Stories:
• Bennett appealing decision on tax increase


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Article comment by: Bobby Fields

Governor Brewer had a choice not to implement the law after it was signed. Instead, she chose to file suit along with several other states. She ceded Arizona's right to refuse to implement a law when she preempted the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare. It does not matter that some governors disagree with the court, the premise of our judicial system is that the Supreme Court has the final say on determining constitutionality.

Personally, I do not like how Obamacare was rammed down the throats of the American people. However, as a responsible, voting citizen I must respect the system and operate within our national system of governance, ie, the CONSTITUTION.


Posted: Saturday, July 07, 2012
Article comment by: just thinking

Wow, all of this because the insurance companies don't want to give back the millions of dollars, they collected.

To bad if the ceo's dosen't get a billion dollar bonus this year.

The insurance lobbyist must be giving lots bucks to the teabagers and the boney finger witch of the west.

Stop crying...'It is the law now' and Romney said he'll only enact his own. I guess like he did in MA.

Oh, I forgot Obama's is like that....


Posted: Saturday, July 07, 2012
Article comment by: Dear Read It Again

You're posting opinion as fact. Years and years of precedent tells us what the process is, and it's not nullification by the state. There is no mechanism outlined in the Constitution by which the States can overturn Federal laws that they are subject to. The courts have consistently ruled that states do not have this power. Arizona has no legal authority to determine if a federal law is unconstitutional, only the Federal Courts can determine that. My cat probably has an opinion that he should get steak for dinner, but until he grows thumbs, and gets his own car keys and credit card he's getting kitty chow.

The logic behind this initiative implies California, for example can decide tomorrow that the Supreme Court's decision in Heller does not apply in California as it radically diverges from previous Court decisions regarding the 2nd Amendment and rule that you have to turn in your firearms tomorrow morning. They can also pass a law that previous Supreme Court decisions regarding search and seizure were just judicial legislation and the police can now search your house and car without a warrant and force you to take a voice stress analyzer and be questioned about whether you own firearms. Obviously, this does not work. This initiative proposes the balkanization of the USA where every state has it's own supreme law and we become a loose union of states and a weaker country.





Posted: Saturday, July 07, 2012
Article comment by: True Arizona

If it raises the blood pressure of all the tea pots, I'm for it.

Posted: Saturday, July 07, 2012
Article comment by: @ Read it again, sir

We as a people voted in congressmen and president's who passed this bill and appointed supreme court justices who upheld the bill's constitutionality.

We can personally disagree with the bill as much as we would like, but it does not change the fact that it has survived all the legal challenges against it, starting with passing it, and then upholding it's constitutionality. The system has run it's course, and as of now, the bill will be put in place. If we as a country choose to ignore the supreme court's ruling, then the whole system falls apart.

If the people truly want the bill repealed, then they can vote that way in elections. Let the system run it's course, and don't let one sided viewpoints ruin a constitution that has been effective for over 2 centuries.


Posted: Friday, July 06, 2012
Article comment by: Read it again, sir

Addendum to my first comment: give this a listen http://fromthetrenchesworldreport.com/walter-e-williams-states-should-nullify-obamacare-wont-lead-to-military-action-against-states/17271/
Love to hear intelligent people corroborate.


Posted: Friday, July 06, 2012
Article comment by: Read it again, sir

Laws made in pursuance of the constitution are the highest law of the land per Article 6. That means if one of the several States finds a federal law to be unconstitutional (like Obamacare) they have the right not to implement it. If the federal govt. is allowed to be the final arbiter of the extent of their own power, their power will be limitless. See the 10th amendment to the constitution. The constitution is a contract between the several States and the federal government. If the fed, as a party to that contract breaks that contract, the only recourse the States have is to refuse implementation of any unconstitutional act.



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