Arizona voters will decide on a ballot measure on Nov. 5, 2024, to establish a $20 fine on every conviction for a criminal offense. These fines would go towards paying benefits of $250,000 to the family of a first responder who is killed in the line of duty starting on June 30, 2025.
The measure first passed the Arizona State Senate on Feb. 28, 2023, by a 16-13 vote. It passed the Arizona House of Representatives by a 47-13 vote on March 7, 2023. In the Senate, all Republicans voted for the measure and all Democrats voted against it. In the House, all Republicans voted for it, while 16 Democrats voted for it and 13 Democrats voted against it.
Sen. David Gowan (R), who sponsored the measure, said, “That $250,000 can go a long way to helping our families of those victims of crime, certainly when there are police officers and first responders who have sworn to defend and protect us.”
The $250,000 benefit to the spouse or children of a first responder would be in addition to the federal or state benefits and pensions already provided to families.
Sen. Lela Alston (D), who opposed the measure, said that the benefit for the families of first responders should come from the general fund. “I have always supported death benefits for our workers,” she said, “I do have a problem with this bill, and that is that it creates another fine that is disproportionate to certain members of our population. And it would be a preferable option to me if we were to pay that death benefit directly out of the general fund to the family of the firefighter or police officer who was killed and not do any more fines in our legal system.”
This measure is the first one certified for the 2024 statewide ballot in Arizona. There are 13 potential legislatively referred measures that have passed one chamber in the state legislature, and may also appear on the 2024 ballot if they pass the other chamber. For the state legislature to refer a measure to the ballot, it must pass both the House and the Senate by a simple majority of votes. In addition, there are two citizen-led campaigns working to put initiatives on the 2024 ballot.
Last year, Arizona had 10 statewide measures on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot—eight which were referred by the state legislature, and two which were placed on the ballot by successful citizen initiatives. Seven measures were approved by voters, and three were defeated.