The Arizona Supreme Court should close the Pandora's Box it opened in the 2018 battle over Invest In Ed. That's what the proponents told the Justices today in their Opening Brief. For their part, the opponents of the measure also appealed in an effort to have the Supreme Court declare the incentives offered to the paid petition circulators violated Arizona law.
Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury decided that this year's model of the Invest In Ed ballot measure should be thrown out because the required 100-word summary did not properly describe all of the provisions of the measure designed to raise monies for education salaries by surcharging taxable income over $250,000.
Coury's opinion points out five provisions in the measure's language that he believed should have also been included in the 100-word summary. As today's Brief points out, it required 127 words for him to describe those provisions. Proponents suggest that if the Supreme Court affirms the lower court, it will effectively eliminate Arizonans' constitutional right to propose and pass laws through ballot measures.
"The result, if not overturned, would be an unconstitutional and untenable new standard under A.R.S. § 19-102(A): (1) an initiative’s “principal provisions” are whatever a challenger can imagine, (2) initiative proponents must limit themselves to simple laws able to be fully described in 100 words or less, and (3) even then, proponents’descriptions must use language preferred by their opponents in a quintessential example of compelled speech. It is an impossible standard to meet, and conflicts with article IV, pt. 1, § 1 of the Arizona Constitution (“Article IV”) and the First Amendment."
The contents of the 100-word summary became the focus of all of the challenges to ballot measures this year, following the Supreme Court's decision removing Invest In Ed from the 2018 ballot. In that case, the Court found that the summary improperly described how much individuals' taxes would go up.
The opponents, supported by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and others, focus their attention on limiting how future ballot measure campaigns can pay their circulators. In 2014, the Arizona Legislature began restricting how circulators could be paid for gathering petition signatures - only for ballot measures, not for candidates - and then came up with a law that prohibits paying them per signature.
Their appeal here is challenging creative promotions offered by the petition circulating company. The Supreme Court's ruling on this may end up setting some parameters on what is an acceptable way to incentivize circulators without running afoul of the law.