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Breaking down this year’s ballot props

Elizabeth Medora~ 10/22/2014

NORTH VALLEY – The midterm elections are less than two weeks away. Signs for and against the ballot propositions and TV and radio ads are unavoidable, all putting forth reasons why you shouldn’t or shouldn’t vote for these props.

The local propositions will be examined here, including the basis of the arguments for and against the proposed legislation. For full text of the propositions and to see other cities’ props, see http://azsos.gov/election/2014/Info/PubPamphlet/english/ebook.pdf or refer to the voting guides mailed to your home.

Remember – the last day to register for early voting is Friday, Oct. 24. According to the Arizona’s General Election Guide, early ballots can be mailed in to the county by Oct. 31. If voters prefer not to mail in their early ballots or don’t have them completed in time to mail them, the sealed, signed ballots can be dropped off at any polling place in the county, per pg. 2 of the Election Guide.

Every Arizona resident who is eligible to vote can vote on the three statewide propositions being presented this year, props 122, 303, and 304.

Prop 122

Proposition 122 would amend the Arizona constitution to say that the state may restrict financial resources from federal actions if the people or the representatives so decide. This prop would affect various state programs and would alter the control of the state’s natural resources.

Supporters of Prop 122, as quoted in Arizona’s General Election Guide, state that this initiative will restrict the federal government and give the state more control. Opponents of Prop 122, also quoted in the Election Guide, say that this measure will weaken federal protection for natural resources, including clean air and water legislation.

Voting yes will change the state’s constitution to give state representatives the right to withhold state funds from federal legislation, if so chosen. Voting no will retain current laws.

Prop 303

Proposition 303, known as the ‘Right To Try Act,’ will allow terminally patients who have a recommendation from their doctor to be eligible for not-yet-FDA-approved treatments. Patients would have give written consent for the use of the treatments, which will include investigational drugs.

The Election Guide offers submitted arguments for the passage of this measure; arguments include patient health and increased healthcare control. No arguments opposing it were submitted to the Election Guide.

Voting yes on prop 303 will amend Title 36 of the Arizona Revised Statutes so that terminally ill patients who have their physicians’ consent can use investigational medications that are still in FDA trials. Voting no will retain the current law.

Prop 304

 Proposition 304 would provide for an increase in state legislators’ salaries, from $24,000 to $35,000 per year.

Supporters of this prop say that increasing pay for legislators will allow more people to afford to serve as legislators. Representatives of the Arizona Judges Association, as quoted in the Election Guide, state that legislators have not had a raise since 1999. Those in opposition refer to the majority of legislators as part-time and say that the job is not supposed to be treated as employment.

Voting yes on prop 304 will raise state legislators’ salaries to $35,000. Voting no will keep legislators’ salaries at $24,000.

Maricopa County: Prop 480

In prop 480, the Maricopa County Special Health Care District is asking county voters to approve the issuance and sale of bonds, not to exceed $935 million. These funds are planned to support the teaching hospital, including the Level One Trauma Center and Arizona Burn Center. The debt service on the bonds will be paid by a property tax increase, reported to be less than $14 per $100,000 of valuation.

Supporters of prop 480 say that this money will help create jobs in healthcare and construction, as well as provide better healthcare services for everyone, including patients with mental illnesses. Opponents call this prop a blank check for the healthcare district and say it will cost too much.

Voting yes will approve the bonds; voting no will disapprove the bonds, and retain the current funding.

City of Phoenix: Prop 487

Prop 487, which applies to city of Phoenix residents, is a proposed amendment to the city charter that will change city employees’ retirement plans. The prop would eliminate participation in the current retirement plan and establish a plan for new employees, also allowing current employees to transfer into the new plan.
Supporters of prop 487 say this will reform pension plans and stop pension spiking, making pensions more similar to the private sector and ultimately saving city funds. Opponents say this will cost money to implement and that the pension changes may have consequences for city workers. The language of the initiative is such that it will likely be challenged in court if approved. Opponents have argued that the prop will do away with firefighters and police officers’ death benefits; supporters say that is not the case.

Voting yes on prop 487 will change city employees’ retirement terms. Voting no will keep current retirement plans in place.

Town of Carefree: Props 488 and 489

 Both propositions 488 and 489 only apply to Carefree citizens.

Prop 488 would change councilmembers terms from two years to staggered four-year terms, starting in 2016. Prop 489 would change the mayor’s term from two years to four years.

Supporters of prop 488 say the initiatives would cut down on new councilmembers’ learning curve time and save the town time and money. Supporters of 489 say it will save time and money on elections, as well as keep continuity in town government.
Opponents say both props give voters less of a say in town matters.

Voting yes on prop 488 will change Carefree councilmembers’ terms to four years; voting no will keep terms at two years. Voting yes on prop 489 will change the Carefree mayor’s term to four years; voting no will keep terms at two years.

For more information on voting, see www.azsos.gov.