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New Group Files Lawsuit To Block Arizona Voter Initiative Bill

Claiming that Arizona lawmakers acted illegally, a newly organized group is asking a judge to void a key change in laws governing the right of voters to enact their own laws.

The lawsuit filed Thursday charges that the Arizona Constitution and a series of court rulings require that initiative organizers need be only in "substantial” compliance with state election laws to qualify their proposals for the ballot. At the behest of business interests, that standard was changed in the legislature this year to “strict” compliance, meaning petition drives could be quashed for technicalities.

Attorney Roopali Desai is asking the court to issue an injunction blocking the measure from taking effect as scheduled on Aug. 9.

"It's actually a constitutional issue" Desai said. "And as our lawsuit articulates, there's a very clear separation of powers between what the legislature can do and what's a constitutional requirement."

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard defended the legislature’s action.

"This is a pretty specific process when you're making law and strict compliance makes sense," Mesnard said. "Our ability to change it is the question.”

A separate effort is underway to void another change, this one prohibiting initiative organizers from paying circulators by the signature.
Backers of the two petition drives have until Aug. 8 to submit at least 75,321 valid signatures. If they succeed, the measure cannot take effect unless and until voters ratify them at the November 2018 general election.