(Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents Ann Siner of My Sister’s Closet and Judge John Buttrick in their litigation efforts against 208.)
By John Buttrick | Arizona Central
As an attorney and retired judge I have always considered the Arizona Constitution to be the highest law of the state, not a set of guidelines.
That’s why I am a plaintiff, along with a top local businesswoman, in the lawsuit brought by Rose Law Group challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 208, potentially the largest income tax hike in Arizona history.
While the measure passed narrowly in November, the lawsuit does not challenge the election itself. Instead it focuses on the assertion that Proposition 208 violates the Arizona Constitution. Our constitution says that the power to tax and make tax policy rests solely with the Arizona Legislature.
Proponents of 208 insist the people and their vote have sovereignty and the election represents their will. While the will of the people must be respected, a successful ballot initiative still must follow the law and the Arizona Constitution.
If backers of Proposition 208 had played by the rules, they would have had to change the Arizona Constitution. It can be done. The Arizona Constitution has been amended more the 150 times since statehood.
But getting a change to the Arizona Constitution on the ballot requires more signatures than a simple initiative. Fifteen percent of the number of those who cast ballots for governor in the last election must sign a petition. For a simple initiative, it is only 10%. A simple majority vote of the Arizona Legislature could also send an amendment to the ballot.