Supreme Court explains reasons Prop 208 returned to ballot

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

Justice Ann Scott Timmer

Trial judges cannot keep voter-proposed initiatives off the ballot just because the description doesn’t mention every provision, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday, a conclusion that should make it easier to put future initiatives to voters.

In an extensive decision, the justices rejected the idea that the legally required 100-word explanation on petition sheets must inform would-be signers of everything the proposed state law or constitutional amendment would do. As long as the verbiage does not provide “objectively false or misleading information” or obscures key provisions, it’s meets what’s legally required, wrote Justice Ann Scott Timmer for the unanimous court.

And if nothing else, Timmer said including every provision of a complex measure in that 100-word limit is just impractical. She said it’s sufficient for proponents to say in the description that those who want more information should read the actual text of the proposal.

Monday’s ruling is specifically explaining the court’s previously announced decision to give voters their say on a 3.5 percent surcharge on taxes of earnings above $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples. Proposition 208 earmarks the proceeds mainly for K-12 education.

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