The Latest: Arizona lawmakers OK new initiative requirements
PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on action at the Arizona Legislature (all times local):
Legislation imposing new requirements for initiative petition circulators is headed to Gov. Doug Ducey.
The measure approved late Friday requires paid circulators or those from other states to sign a notarized form and supply contact information before collecting signatures, among a variety of other new requirements. Providing false information would be a misdemeanor.
It’s the latest hurdle for initiatives promoted by Republicans and business interests that have seen voters approve ballot measures that the GOP-controlled Legislature opposes. Democrats say complying with all the requirements added in recent years makes it harder and more expensive for citizens to exercise their direct democracy rights.
Republicans say rich donors have been able to subvert the populist initiative process.
The bill no longer gives the attorney general the power to rewrite the ballot language describing an initiative. That provision was pulled out for lack of support in the Senate.
The sponsor of one of two competing tobacco and vaping regulation bills at the Arizona Legislature says he’s giving up on his proposal in the face of opposition from anti-smoking advocates.
Republican Rep. John Allen said Friday he just couldn’t get the votes to back his measure raising the age to buy tobacco or vaping products to 21. The bill also contained a clause barring cities and towns from further regulating tobacco or charging licensing fees to retailers. It was backed by the tobacco and vaping industry.
A competing bill championed by Republican Sen. Heather Carter of Cave Creek remains alive as the Legislature moves to adjourn, but its fare is unclear. It would reclassify vaping products as tobacco and place them under the voter-approved Smoke-Free Arizona Act, which bars indoor tobacco use.
Carter opposed Allen’s bill, saying it would lock in rules favoring the tobacco industry.
Arizona lawmakers decided not to name a mountain peak west of Phoenix in honor of a fallen Navy SEAL.
The House voted 45-15 to reject a bill to name the tallest peak in Estrella Mountain Regional Park after Charles Keating IV.
Keating was killed in 2016 in Iraq during a battle with Islamic State fighters.
Republican Rep. Walter Blackman, an Army veteran, says it’s offensive to ask lawmakers to honor one veteran over another. Democratic Rep. Lorenzo Sierra has the peak in his district and says there are local heroes worthy of the honor.
The Gila River Indian Community also opposes the change, saying the mountain range has religious and cultural importance. One of the tribes that make up today’s Gila River Indian Community rejects naming landscapes after people who’ve died.
The Arizona Legislature is finishing its yearly work and just approved a plan that phases out 20 percent annual increases to a corporate tax credit that funds private school scholarships.
The House voted unanimously Friday to scale back the growth over four years and then increase it yearly by 2 percent or the inflation rate.
The tax credit funds so-called School Tuition Organizations that distribute the corporate cash they receive to private school students. The program started at $10 million in 2008 but now allows corporations to divert more than $100 million yearly to the school organizations and get credit toward their income taxes.
Under the bill now on its way to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk the maximum credit in 2024 would drop from about $220 million to $145 million.