Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs initiative signature bill into law

Mar 23, 2017, 5:39 PM | Updated: 5:50 pm
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)...
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill into law that will bar groups that aim to put voter initiatives on the ballot from paying petition circulators per signature.

Ducey signed the House Bill 2404 Thursday night, shortly after the Arizona House gave its final approval.

In addition to requiring that signature collectors be paid minimum wage, the bill also increases the number of days that officials can take to verify signatures — from five days to 10.

In a statement, Ducey praised the bill as “common-sense reform [that] strikes the right balance in making sure it continues to work well.”

“It protects the voters’ ability to directly weigh-in on how the state is run, provides for an additional check on the legality and accuracy of initiative language, helps increase the likelihood of quality, accurate signatures and ensures that signature gathers are paid appropriately for their work,” the statement continued.

The bill “helps ensure the integrity of ballot measures moving forward,” Ducey argued.

But not all lawmakers agreed: Democratic state Rep. Ken Clark of Phoenix said the increased costs won’t prevent special interests from either the right or left from pushing ballot initiatives.

“Any of these groups are still going to be able to afford the 25 to 30 percent increase in the costs of collecting signatures,” Clark said Thursday on the House floor. “We should be concerned about this, because the damage to our initiative and referendum process from that cost alone is demonstrably greater than any fraud we’ve seen.”

The proposal was one of the most contentious of the 2017 legislative session, and came after years of Republican-backed measures that Democrats said amount to voter suppression.

Democrats and voting rights activists opposed the proposal, saying it will make it harder to get citizen initiatives on the ballot. They noted that it doesn’t apply to candidates for office.

Republicans argued the measure is needed to cut fraud in signature gathering, but provided no evidence of actual fraud during Senate committee hearings. In addition to banning per-signature payment, the bill also makes it easier to challenge initiatives in court.

The House vote on the proposal came with no Democratic support and gives Republicans and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry a victory in one of their top priorities of the year. House Bill 2404 was approved by the Senate Wednesday, also with no votes from Democrats.

The Chamber proposed the measure after voters in November approved a minimum wage increase opposed by business groups and they fought against a marijuana legalization proposal that failed at the polls.

House Republican Speaker J.D. Mesnard pushed back again the proposition that the minimum wage increase prompted the measure, noting that former Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano had a similar proposal about a decade ago.

“All this is saying is that you can’t pay per signature. Most people I talk to find it offensive that signatures are paid for at all,” Mesnard said. “If there’s truly this Democratic uprising you don’t have to pay for anything.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Kevin Stone

Real estate firm JLL completes move into Phoenix’s The Grove development

Global real estate services firm JLL announced that it has finished moving its Arizona operations into Phoenix's The Grove development.
10 hours ago
A fisherman throws a cast net along shore of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, F...

California holds out as Arizona, other states submit Colorado River water plan

Six Western states that rely on water from the Colorado River, including Arizona, have agreed on a model to cut water use in the basin.
10 hours ago
(Unsplash Photo)...

Apache Junction toddler dies of overdose after swallowing fentanyl pill

Police in Apache Junction are investigating the death of a toddler boy they said ingested fentanyl.
10 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation)...

ASU receives $5.5M in funding to help fill nursing needs

Arizona State University was awarded over $5 million to pay tuition and fees for 104 students, the school announced. 
10 hours ago
(El Mirage Police Department Photos)...

3 arrested after house tied to human smuggling in El Mirage was targeted

Three people were arrested and a man is dead after a home tied to a human smuggling operation in El Mirage was targeted on Saturday.
10 hours ago
Follow @KTAR923...

Glendale firefighter honored for life-saving effort by city of Surprise

A Glendale firefighter was honored Monday for life-saving actions he made last August, the city of Surprise announced.
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs initiative signature bill into law