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Thursday November 2, 2000

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By the provisions of this bill, the Arizona legislature would be required to set aside 3 percent of state trust land permanently. Other lands could be traded in order to increase open spaces, or donated for public schools. It could also be leased to ranchers for terms of greater than 10 years without public auction.


In July, 1971, the 26th amendment to the U.S. Constutution lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. Arizona's constitution has yet to catch up, as it still requires that voters be 21. This doesn't mean that those between 18-21 can't currently vote in elections; they can, as the federal law supercedes the local.

This amendment would change the "official" state voting age to 18, as well as updating other language in the constitution to make it a bit more palatable. References to "the insane, blind, deaf, and mute" would be replaced by "persons who have mental or physical disabilities."


This would amend the Arizona state constitution to require that any initiatives dealing with hunting, trapping or other taking of wildlife be passed by a supermajority of two-thirds of the voters, rather than the current requirement of one-half. Also, the amendment would create various requirements intended to make the state government manage wildlife for the public good.


Arizona's corporation commission, which has broad control over utilities in the state, currently consists of three elected seats, each serving a six-year term. This amendment would raise the number of commissioners to five, while reducing their terms in office to four years, but allowing them to be re-elected for consecutive terms.


Every year, county assessors send homeowners a reckoning of the value of their property. Generally, the assessments have little to do with the reality of market value, but they are important in that they determine the amount of property taxes paid by the owner. As the assessments go up every year, so do the property taxes. This amendment would allow seniors whose income is less than four times the base social security rate to apply for a freeze on their assessments, thus stabilizing their property tax payments.


Death and taxes are certainties, but this amendment would ostensibly prevent dead people from paying taxes by exempting land set aside for cemeteries from property taxes.


Every 10 years, the state legislature redraws the lines of our congressional districts to reflect the results of the new census. However, in many states, the legislature has a history of using a process known as gerrymandering to ensure that the party that redraws the districts keeps control of the legislature by marginalizing the minority party.

To prevent such a process, deemed unfair by many, especially in minority groups, this amendment would take the power of redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and give it to an five-member appointed bi-partisan redistricting committee, which would ignore party registration and voting history in areas in determining the new lines.


Telephone rates in Arizona are still regulated by the Corporation Commission, as a way to protect consumers in areas that don't have competition for phone service. However, as competition has entered into many markets, the dominant phone company sponsored this amendment to the state constitution to allow market competition to determine phone rates in areas where two or more companies provide service.


With millions rolling in from the state tobacco settlement, it is inevitable that groups would be fighting over where the money should be spent. This bill proposes that the money be spent on health care benefits for uninsured children and their parents, as well as programs meant to encourage early detection of cancer and strokes as well as other diseases. This proposition is on the ballot in opposition to proposition 204: were both to be approved, there would be no net effect.


Urban sprawl is a recognized problem, and this proposal would take an active approach to dealing with it. It would set up boundaries around every city based on projected 10-year growth, and any development outside of those boundaries would have to pay for its own sewer, water, electricity and other services. Any government-funded extension of infrastructure or rezoning would require voter approval as well as a four-fifths supermajority in the body governing the development. Lawsuits enforcing the provisions of the amendment could be brought by any person.


This proposition would amend Arizona law to require that all public school courses be taught in English, doing away with bilingual programs. Students currently in bilingual programs would be put into an intensive one-year immersion program, while continuing to learn academic subjects. Waivers could be granted to children that already know English, are more than 10 years old or have special needs.


Under the provisions of this proposition, monies from the tobacco settlement would be used to fund the "Healthy Arizona Initiative," passed by the legislature in 1996. In effect, it would increase healthcare aid for poor families, and fund educational and preventative anti-tobacco measures. More money would also be given to aid for senior citizens.


This proposition would raise the salaries of Arizona legislators from $24,000 per year to $30,000.


Were this proposition passed, the state sales tax would increase to 5.6 percent from 5 percent, with the revenues to be used to fund various educational programs. These programs would include increased teacher pay, five extra school days in public schools, building improvement bonds and workforce development.


Passage of this proposition would mean adding an extra 1 percent to existing hotel taxes, with the revenues to go towards the promotion of local tourism.