Monday, April 14, 2008

No Free Handouts: By Mark R. Kerr

This current session of the Arizona Legislature continues, limping toward the 100-day mark, delving into inane, stupid subjects, wasting the taxpayer's time and importantly, money, while other topics such as the state budget and the ever increasing shortfall continues to be "spun" as the clock ticks toward economic oblivion for everyone in the Grand Canyon State.

Even with this economic storm and time of crisis, Arizona's Republican legislators listened to their "handlers," Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) and have resurrected a proposed state constitutional amendment, defining marriage as between "one man and one woman."

If this measure, know known as Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1042, receives the approval by the Legislature, with no amendments added, voters would consider this, since it would be placed on the November general election ballot.

Arguments are being made that voters already voted on a measure in 2006, then known as Proposition 107 and turned it down by a 52% to 48% margin.

It has been brought up that there is already Arizona law on the subject (A.R.S. 25-101 and A.R.S. 25-112) for twelve years and that it has been upheld in court in the case and decisions regarding Standhardt v. Superior Court in 2003 and 2004.

So why then do Herrod and her ilk deserve to get a “free-pass” by placing this measure on the November general election ballot?

A “free-pass” is not having to pay political consultants or petition circulators funds to get the minimum 230,047 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to place a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot for consideration.

For an initiative, referendum or proposed constitutional amendment, if proponents cannot get the required signatures, they will pay in the range of $1-$2 per valid signature to paid petition circulators.

So if a group, wanting to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Arizona decides to go this route, it could cost them a minimum of $230,000 to a possible half million dollars, and an additional cost to firms who deal in paid petition circulators.

In 2006, Cathi Herrod and CAP utilized this with their proposed constitutional amendment barring recognition of same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships, then known as Proposition 107.

Herrod and CAP hired Nathan Sproul of Sproul and Associates to run the “Yes on 107” campaign, which was defeated by voters in November of that year, making Arizona the first state of 28 to reject such a measure.

State Representative Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, isn’t trying to take the easy way out with her initiative drive to place on the November ballot a measure protecting the rights of workers in Arizona from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, known as “Free to Work Arizona,” (I-19-2008).

Sinema announced that there is money to fund a signature drive by paid petition circulators to get the minimum 153,365 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters needed to place her measure on the November general election ballot.

So with that, why then does Cathi Herrod and CAP deserve a “free handout” on their ballot measure?

Let your state Representatives and Senator know of your opposition to SCR 1042 and this potential “free handout” by going online here.

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