Judge: New Arizona law regulating citizen initiatives can take effect, for now

Judge Sherry Stephens left the door open for groups to file lawsuits at a later time.

By Alexa Chryssovergis and Alia Beard Rau | The Republic

A new state law making it tougher for residents to put issues on the ballot will take effect Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge has ruled.

But “it’s certainly a possibility” the ruling will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, said attorney Roopali Desai, who represents those challenging the law. And Judge Sherry Stephens left the door open for groups to file lawsuits at a later time.

A broad coalition of individuals and advocacy groups filed the lawsuit challenging House Bill 2244, which requires the mechanics of an initiative effort — from the size of the petition paper to the font size of the text — to strictly comply with state law.

The Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey passed the law this session. Republican lawmakers who supported it said it would help prevent fraud. Opponents argued the law ultimately is intended to prevent Arizonans from making an end-run around the Legislature by putting their own proposals on the ballot.

Stephens on Monday ruled that because the legislation has not yet caused any harm, it’s too soon to judge whether it is unconstitutional. Merely the expectation that the legislation will prevent future initiative efforts is not enough.




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