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Tue, April 23

Ballot propositions spark lively debates

PRESCOTT - The prospect of watering down Arizona's new employer sanctions law riled up numerous citizens at a town hall meeting about general election ballot propositions Friday in Prescott.Opponents said Proposition 202 would weaken the law that aims to crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants."If you've never seen a wolf in sheep's clothing...look no further than Proposition 202," said Valerie Roller, representing a nonprofit opposition group called Riders United for a Sovereign America.Landscaping, agricultural, construction and fast food companies are behind Prop. 202, she said."This (law) is very effective, and that's the reason they don't want it," local resident Bob Park agreed.A representative of District 1 Senate Democratic candidate Pat Chancerelle (Sharon McDonald) said Chancerelle supports the measure, but she was the only one of the approximately 100 people at the meeting to voice support.Opponents said the proposition, which got on the ballot through a petition drive, would put an end to the state requirement for employers to verify the legality of employees through a federal computer system.Chino Valley Mayor Karen Fann, who also owns a small construction business, said the federal E-Verify system takes the burden of proof off of her. She voiced her opposition to the measure, producing a lot of clapping in the audience.Eight props on ballotSecretary of State Elections Director Joe Kanefield offered brief overviews of the ballot propositions for Friday's audience at Las Fuentes Resort Village. The state office is conducting 14 town hall meetings throughout the state about ballot propositions. The agency also mailed out detailed booklets to registered voters, which also are available online at www.azsos.gov. The booklets contain proposition wording, explanations and numerous pro/con statements.The state office also plans to add a video of a Phoenix-area town hall about the propositions on its website. The town hall should air on public access channels too, Kanefield said.Arizona voters will choose yea or nea on eight ballot propositions in the Nov. 4 election. Only one, Prop. 102, came from the Legislature, and one other (Prop. 300) came from a state commission. The rest got on the ballot through petition drives.Four of the propositions (in the 100 series) seek to change the state Constitution, while the rest would change Arizona statutes.Props list and commentsPROPOSITION 100 would prohibit any new tax on real estate transfers or sales.Kathleen Dunbar, a former Republican state legislator from Tucson, warned that at least one legislator introduces a bill just about every year to institute a real estate transfer tax.And the tax would even affect people when they move property into a trust, a real estate office employee added.PROPOSITION 101 would prohibit laws that would restrict a person's right to make choices on health care services and coverage.It seeks to prevent a statewide universal health care plan like the one in Massachusetts, one citizen said.The Democratic Party and Chancerelle oppose this measure, McDonald said. It would create more problems than it would solve, she said.PROPOSITION 102 would prohibit same-sex marriage.At least two people spoke against it, saying it's unnecessary because state law already prohibits same-sex marriage.PROPOSITION 105 would require any future ballot initiatives containing spending or tax increases to be approved by a majority of all registered voters, not just those casting ballots.Several people voiced opposition to the measure, including Kristin Greene, campaign manager for "The Voters of Arizona - No on Prop. 105," which she said has the backing of more than 105 groups. "It's going to be impossible to pass any initiative," Greene said, charging it would even affect measures without new taxes.Prop. 105 could prevent any future local transit system if local governments seek a regional revenue source for it through a ballot measure, Fann said. A transit tax could get resounding approval but if fewer than half of the registered voters went to the polls, it still would lose, she noted."I figure if you don't care enough to vote, then you shouldn't be counted," one citizen declared.PROPOSITION 200 would remove the 2010 automatic expiration of a current law authorizing payday loans, and place new restrictions on those high-interest, short-term loans."They put this forward as a reform bill," but that is untrue, said Jean Ann Fox of Prescott, a member of the steering committee of an opposition group called Arizonans for Responsible Lending.The measure would allow payday lenders to charge approximately 390 percent interest on loans and get into the bank accounts of people who don't pay up, Fox said.If voters say no, state law will revert back to a 36 percent interest rate limit, similar to restrictions in 15 other states, Fox said.PROPOSITION 201 would provide new warranty and other rights to property buyers, including buyers of new homes.Yavapai County Contractors Association Executive Director Sandy Griffis spoke against it."It turns everything over to litigation," Griffis said. Arizona's homebuyer protection laws are plenty fair right now and offer mediation alternatives, she said."It will add thousands to the price of a new home," she added.PROPOSITION 300 would raise the 90 state legislators' annual salary from $24,000 to $30,000.Fran Schumacher (who happens to be Prescott Valley's vice mayor) said legislators shouldn't get a raise until state employees including her husband get fair raises.But Prescott Unified School District board member Joan Fleming said legislators often work all year, and the lack of decent pay can scare off good candidates.Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com
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