State Capitol News
2:41 pm
Mon July 26, 2010

Judge Refuses to have Lawmakers Reword Controversial Ballot Measure

Phoenix, AZ – Four years ago voters approved an 80-cent-a-pack tax on
cigarettes to fund programs for early childhood education and
health care and helping educate parents of their youngsters
needs. That raised about $135 million in the budget year just
ended. Now the Republican-controlled Legislature wants control of
that cash to help balance the budget. But they have to get voter
OK to do that. That's what Proposition 302 would do. What caused
the court fight is that the Legislative Council, also controlled
by GOP lawmakers, crafted a description of the measure that
program supporters don't like. That's important because that
analysis is mailed to the homes of all registered voters. Among
the arguments is that it never tells voters they approved the
program in the first place. And it refers to it by its legal name
-- the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Program --
and not by the name it's known which is First Things First.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig said he
might have crafted the explanation different. But he said the one
lawmakers approved is -- quote -- sufficiently neutral,
non-argumentative, accurate and impartial as to not be
misleading. And that, he said, is all the law requires. For
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.