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Stories about Arizona

Voters in Gilbert, Arizona, approved the 2020 General Plan for city land development

Voters in Gilbert, Arizona, passed Proposition 430 on Tuesday approving the 2020 General Plan for city land development with 81.84% of the vote. Proposition 430 was put on the ballot through a vote of the Gilbert Town Council on March 3, 2020. The last general plan was approved in 2010.

In 2020, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California, and all statewide ballot measures. Ballotpedia’s 2020 local ballot measure coverage includes Gilbert, Arizona.


Incumbent McSally receives Republican nomination in Arizona’s special U.S. Senate election

Incumbent Sen. Martha McSally defeated Daniel McCarthy and write-in candidate Sean Lyons in the Republican special primary election for U.S. Senate in Arizona on August 4, 2020.

The special election was called to fill the rest of the 2017-2022 term that John McCain (R) was elected to in 2016. McCain died of cancer on August 25, 2018. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed Jon Kyl (R) to the seat in 2018, and Kyl resigned later that year. Ducey then appointed McSally.

Prior to her appointment, McSally ran for Senate in 2018 and lost to Kyrsten Sinema (D) 47.6% to 50%. McSally served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019. During the primary, she highlighted her military service and said she would work to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, lower prescription drug costs, and hold China accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic.

McSally will face Mark Kelly (D) in the general election, which forecasters expect to be competitive. As of July 15, McSally had raised $41.3 million with $11.9 million on hand. Kelly had raised $46.1 million with $21.2 million on hand.


Blue Dog Coalition co-chairman O’Halleran faces Our Revolution-backed Putzova in Arizona primary

Rep. Tom O’Halleran faces challenger Eva Putzova in the Democratic primary for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District on August 4. O’Halleran was first elected to the House in 2016 and did not face a primary challenger in 2018.

O’Halleran, who served eight years in the state legislature as a Republican before leaving the party in 2014, is co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of House Democrats describing themselves as “pragmatic Democrats, appealing to the mainstream values of the American public.” His endorsers include Everytown for Gun Safety, the League of Conservation Voters, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Putzova, an immigrant from former Czechoslovakia and a former member of the Flagstaff City Council, says she is running to limit the influence corporations have over policy. Putzova says she will fight for “freedom from illness and medical bills, freedom from crushing student loan debt, freedom to enjoy a healthy life on this planet.” Former 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (D), Brand New Congress, and Our Revolution each endorsed her.

Arizona’s 1st Congressional District is one of 30 districts nationwide represented by a Democrat that Donald Trump (R) carried in 2016. Trump carried the district by a margin of 1.1 percentage points that year, while O’Halleran was re-elected in 2018 by a margin of 8.8 percentage points.

Arizona is among five states holding Congressional primaries next Tuesday. Ballotpedia identified one other Congressional primary in Arizona as a battleground: the special Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Incumbent Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat in 2018, will face Daniel McCarthy and write-in candidate Sean Lyons as she seeks the Republican nomination to fill the remainder of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) unexpired term.

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Three Arizona Supreme Court justices seek retention in November

Arizona Supreme Court Justices Robert Brutinel, Andrew W. Gould, and John Lopez IV are all standing for retention election on November 3, 2020. Lopez and Gould were both appointed by current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R), while Brutinel was appointed by former Governor Jan Brewer (R).
Currently, all seven judges on the court were appointed by a Republican governor: five appointed by Ducey and two by Brewer.
Each of Arizona’s seven justices is appointed by the governor from a list of names compiled by the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. The commission is chaired by the Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice and has four vacancies as of April.
A newly appointed justice’s term is at least two years, after which the justice must stand in a retention election. Subsequent terms last six years. Since 2008 across the country, state supreme court justices facing retention elections have won 98% of the time. In Arizona, no justices have lost a retention election in this time frame.


Signatures filed for Arizona ballot initiative designed to reduce prison sentences for persons convicted of non-dangerous offenses

The campaign Arizonans for Second Chances, Rehabilitation, and Public Safety (Second Chances Arizona) reported filing 397,291 signatures for a ballot initiative designed to reduce prison sentences for persons convicted of non-dangerous offenses and expand rehabilitative programs. At least 237,645 (about 59.8 percent) of the submitted signatures need to be valid for the initiative to go before voters on November 3, 2020.
The ballot initiative would define certain crimes as non-dangerous offenses, such as non-violent drug crimes. The ballot initiative would expand earned release credits for persons imprisoned for non-dangerous offenses; allow judges to impose sentences for non-dangerous offenses that are less than prescribed sentencing ranges and terms found in state code; and exclude those convicted of non-dangerous offenses from the process of charging a person as a repeat offender for multiple offenses at a single trial. The ballot initiative would also establish a Victim and First Responder Support Services Fund.
Through March 31, 2020, Second Chances Arizona received $1.27 million, with 99.8 percent from Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ). ASJ is a project of Tides Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides grants to progressive charities and organizations. Along with ASJ, the ACLU of Arizona, American Conservative Union, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) of Arizona, and FWD.us were involved in crafting the ballot initiative.
Roopali Desai, a lawyer who worked on the developing the proposal, said, “The idea here is that we’re wanting to have people in prison for long enough where it has a deterrent effect, but not so long that it breaks people to the point where they can’t reenter into society. I think voters really understand that, and they want people to have second chances.”
The process of verifying signatures could take until August 26, 2020. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has until July 31 to remove ineligible petition sheets. Counties then have until August 21, 2020, to conduct random samples. Hobbs will then have until August 26 to aggregate the random samples and announce whether the initiative will appear on the ballot.
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Signatures filed for Arizona ‘Invest in Ed’ initiative, which would enact an income tax surcharge for education funding

The campaign Invest in Education reported filing more than 435,000 signatures for a ballot initiative in Arizona to enact a 3.5 percent income tax, in addition to existing income taxes, on income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). The initiative would distribute the revenue to teacher and classroom support staff salaries, teacher mentoring and retention programs, career and technical education programs, and the Arizona Teachers Academy. At least 237,645 (about 54.6 percent) of the submitted signatures need to be valid for the initiative to go before voters on November 3, 2020.
Invest in Education raised $956,338 through March 31, 2020, according to the most recent campaign finance report. The deadline for the next scheduled reports is July 15, 2020. Stand for Children, an organization that advocates for public education funding, provided $726,148 to Invest in Education. Amber Gould, a high school teacher and state director of the National Education Association, is chairperson of the campaign.
In 2018, Invest in Education collected signatures for a similar ballot initiative, which was certified for the ballot as Proposition 207. The Arizona Supreme Court removed Proposition 207 from the ballot on August 29, 2018, in a 5-2 opinion. Justices ruled that the petitions should have used the words percentage points, rather than the percent symbol to describe the tax increases, and stated that income tax brackets would no longer be adjusted for inflation. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry opposed the effort in 2018, contributing $911,812 to the committee opposing Proposition 207.
The process of verifying signatures could take until August 26, 2020. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has until July 31 to remove ineligible petition sheets. Counties then have until August 21, 2020, to conduct random samples. Hobbs will then have until August 26 to aggregate the random samples and announce whether the initiative will appear on the ballot.
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Signatures filed for Arizona ballot initiative on hospital worker minimum wage and new health insurance regulations

The campaign Healthcare Rising AZ reported filing 425,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to establish a minimum wage for hospital workers and enact several changes to healthcare insurance regulations. At least 237,645 (about 55.9 percent) of the submitted signatures need to be valid for the initiative to go before voters on November 3, 2020.
The ballot initiative would establish a minimum wage for direct care hospital workers, including nurses, aides, technicians, janitorial and housekeeping staff, food service workers, and non-managerial administrative staff. The minimum wage for hospital workers would increase 5 percent from the previous year over the course of four years, leveling out at $14.59 per hour.
The ballot initiative would enact several changes to healthcare insurance regulations, including prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions under state law, providing the factors that insurance companies must use to determine premium rates, and prohibiting what the initiative calls surprise out-of-network bills, among other changes. The ballot initiative would also require private hospitals to meet national standards regarding hospital-acquired infections and empower the Arizona Department of Health Services to fine hospitals that do not meet those standards.
Healthcare Rising AZ has the support of the SEIU-UHW West, a labor union for healthcare workers that is based in California. Through March 31, the SEIU-UHW West and affiliated political committees have provided the campaign with $3.22 million. Sean Wherley, a spokesperson for the SEIU-UHW West, said, “SEIU-UHW’s goals are to help people in Arizona build Healthcare Rising Arizona to advocate for better and more affordable healthcare in the state and pass the ballot initiative.” Healthcare Rising AZ chairperson Jenny David, who is a registered nurse, said the campaign reached out to SEIU-UHW West about supporting the ballot initiative. David described the ballot initiative saying, “This package of improvements will fix a number of major problems in our state’s health care system to ensure that everyone can get the affordable coverage and safe care they need. These are sensible, important changes that we need to protect ourselves and ensure quality care.”
Opponents include the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. Ann-Marie Alameddin, the association’s CEO, stated, “This California-based union [SEIU-UHW West], famous for picketing hospitals, is asking Arizonans to vote for an initiative that won’t improve their health care and will end up costing them more. Moreover, it has a track record of using ballot initiatives not to improve health care in Arizona but to leverage its bargaining position with California hospitals.”
In 2020, the SEIU-UHW West is also supporting California Proposition 23, which would implement requirements for staffing, data reporting, and closures at dialysis clinics.
The process of verifying signatures could take until August 26, 2020. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has until July 31 to remove ineligible petition sheets. Counties then have until August 21, 2020, to conduct random samples. Hobbs will then have until August 26 to aggregate the random samples and announce whether the initiative will appear on the ballot.
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Campaign behind Arizona marijuana legalization ballot initiative files signatures for 2020 ballot

On July 1, the campaign Smart and Safe Arizona reported filing 420,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Arizona. At least 237,645 (about 56.6 percent) of the submitted signatures need to be valid.
The process of verifying signatures could take until August 26, 2020. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has until July 31, 2020, to remove ineligible petition sheets. Counties then have until August 21, 2020, to conduct random samples. Hobbs will then have until August 26 to aggregate the random samples and announce whether the initiative will appear on the ballot.
The ballot initiative would legalize the possession, use, and sale of marijuana and would include a six-plant home-grow provision. The ballot initiative would provide local governments with the power to ban marijuana facilities and testing centers and give local control over elements of regulation, zoning, and licensing. Smart and Safe Arizona also included a provision to expunge some marijuana-related convictions.
In 2016, 51.3 percent of voters rejected a ballot initiative, titled Arizona Proposition 205, that would have legalized marijuana. One of the differences between Proposition 205 and this year’s ballot initiative is the proposed regulatory structure. Whereas Proposition 205 would have established a new government agency, the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, Smart and Safe Arizona’s proposal would make the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services responsible for adopting rules to regulate marijuana. The excise tax on marijuana sales is also 1 percentage point higher—16%—under this year’s proposal.
Smart and Safe Arizona raised $2.77 million through the most recent campaign finance filings on March 31. The deadline for the next scheduled reports is July 15, 2020. Harvest Enterprises, which is a marijuana business based in Tempe, contributed $1.03 million to Smart and Safe Arizona. Ballotpedia has not identified political action committees opposing the ballot initiative as of July 2. In 2016, opponents raised $6.37 million in their effort to defeat Proposition 205, while supporters raised $6.55 million.
Eleven states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Except in Illinois and Vermont, marijuana was legalized through the ballot initiative process.
Going into July, New Jersey and South Dakota were scheduled to vote on ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana in November. Signatures have also been submitted for a legalization initiative in Montana.


Arizona schools set to reopen in the fall

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that schools in the state would reopen for in-person instruction in the fall. No firm start date was provided, but Ducey said the state would release guidelines for schools on June 1. Schools in the state have been closed to in-person instruction since March 15.

Forty-eight states were closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 99.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states to not close schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year are Montana and Wyoming.



Arizona court clerk voted out of office in recall election

A recall election seeking to remove Cindy Woodman (R) from her position as Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court in Arizona was held on May 19, 2020. Heidi Torrio (R) and Marianne Clonts (R) filed to run against Woodman in the election. Torrio received the most votes with 67%, according to unofficial election night results. Clonts received 27%, and Woodman received 5%.

The recall effort started in September 2019. Recall organizers cited high turnover and lack of institutional knowledge as reasons to circulate petitions. They also cited a court ruling that found Woodman was derelict in her duties. Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel signed an order on October 11, 2019, that placed the Graham County Clerk of the Court’s Office under the direct supervision of Judge Michael Peterson. Woodman was prohibited from conducting clerk’s duties but continued to receive her full salary.

Woodman declined to comment on the recall effort, but Graham County Republican Party Chairman John Duane Rhodes spoke in support of her. Rhodes said that Woodman inherited a hostile work environment from her predecessor and that he believed she had done a good job despite the lack of training provided to her from the county.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall organizers had to collect signatures from at least 2,697 registered voters. They submitted 3,147 signatures on November 18, 2019, and enough signatures were deemed valid to schedule a recall election.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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