Stories about Arizona

Primary election set for Aug. 3 in Tucson, Arizona

The municipal primary in Tucson, Arizona, is scheduled for Aug. 3, 2021. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on April 5.

Candidates filed for three seats on the six-seat city council. In Ward 3, Kevin Dahl will face Juan Padres in the Democratic primary. In the Ward 6 Democratic primary, Andres Portela and Miranda Schubert are challenging incumbent Steve Kozachik. No Republican candidates qualified for the ballot in these races, but voters can still choose to write in a candidate’s name.

Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona and the 33rd-largest city in the United States by population.

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$15 per hour minimum wage initiative qualifies for November ballot in Tucson, Arizona

On July 22, 2021, the Tucson City Clerk confirmed that enough signatures were submitted for an initiative backed by Tucson Fight for $15 to qualify for the November 2 ballot.

On July 2, Tucson Fight for $15, the campaign behind a local minimum wage increase, submitted 29,526 raw signatures to the city’s clerk office.

In Tucson, Arizona, petitioners needed to submit 14,826 valid signatures by July 2, 2021, to qualify for the November 2021 ballot. The signature requirement was based on 15% of the votes cast for mayoral candidates in the previous mayoral election. After signatures are certified for an initiative in Tucson, the measure goes before the city council. The city council has two options: approve the initiative, precluding an election, or send the initiative to the ballot.

The initiative would amend the city code to incrementally increase the city’s minimum wage from $12.15 (the state’s minimum wage) to $15 by January 1, 2025, and increase it every January thereafter by the rate of inflation rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05. The minimum wage would increase by the following increments:

  1. $13 by April 1, 2022,
  2. $13.50 by January 1, 2023,
  3. $14.25 by January 1, 2024, and
  4. $15.00 by January 1, 2025.

The initiative would also establish a Department of Labor Standards by April 1, 2022. The department would be authorized to receive complaints from employees, investigate employers, and educate workers about their rights under the initiative. A violation of the initiative would be a civil infraction with a civil penalty of up to $100 per employee affected by the violation paid to the city. If multiple violations occur, the city may revoke, suspend, or decline to renew any licenses of the employer.

Tucson Fight for $15 filed the initiative on February 27, 2021. Billy Peard, the co-author and co-organizer of Tucson Fight for $15, said, “Tucson’s has one of the fastest-growing rents and housing costs in the country. Tucson is the second poorest city in the southwestern United States, as measured by per capita income. There’s simply no way that a family, or even an individual without children, can pay a one-bedroom apartment these days on the current minimum wage of $12.15.”

Tucson Business Owners Inc. is leading the campaign in opposition to the measure. Carlos Ruiz, owner of HT Metals in Tucson and a member of Tucson Business Owners, said the initiative is more than just about raising the minimum wage to $15. He said, “Interested parties can initiate actions against businesses and if successful those interested parties get 30% of the fines and penalties that are assessed against that business. And the city of Tucson gets 70% of the fines. So there’s an incentive for outside parties becoming activists to go after employers in the city of Tucson.”

In 2016, Arizona passed Proposition 206, which increased the minimum wage to $10 in 2017, and then incrementally to $12 by 2020, and created a right to paid sick time off from employment. It was approved by a margin of 58.33% to 41.67%.

Governors appoint new supreme court justices in two states

Alaska and Arizona have new state supreme court justices after appointments from their respective governors. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed Jennifer Stuart Henderson to the Alaska Supreme Court on July 7, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed Kathryn Hackett King to the Arizona Supreme Court on July 8.


A seat on the Alaska Supreme Court became vacant when former Chief Justice Joel Bolger retired on June 30, 2021. Gov. Dunleavy selected Jennifer Stuart Henderson for the seat from a list of three finalists forwarded by the Alaska Judicial Council (AJC). Henderson is Gov. Dunleavy’s second nominee to the five-member supreme court.

On July 1, Dunleavy asked the AJC to reconsider its list of nominees and put forward a new slate to fill the vacancy. However, under the council’s bylaws, it may not reconsider nominees that have been sent to the governor except in specific circumstances. Ultimately, Dunleavy appointed Henderson from the original slate of three names put forward by the AJC.

Prior to her appointment to the supreme court, Henderson served as a judge on the Alaska superior court. She was appointed to the superior court in 2012 by former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R). Her career experience also includes working as an assistant district attorney in Anchorage and as an attorney in private practice with the law firm of Farley & Graves. After law school, she served as a clerk for former Alaska Supreme Court Justice Warren Matthews. Henderson earned a J.D. from Yale Law School.


A seat on the Arizona Supreme Court became vacant when former Justice Andrew W. Gould retired on April 1, 2021. Gov. Ducey selected Kathryn Hackett King for the seat from a slate of nominees put forward by the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. King is Gov. Ducey’s sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Before her appointment to the supreme court, King was a partner at the law firm of BurnsBarton PLC. She also served as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents. From 2015 to 2017, King served as the deputy general counsel to Gov. Ducey. She previously practiced law at Snell & Wilmer LLP. After graduation from law school, King clerked for former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan from 2007 to 2008. She is the fifth woman in Arizona history to serve on the state supreme court.

King earned a B.A. in political science from Duke University and a J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

In 2021, there have been 14 supreme court vacancies in 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. To date, nine of those 14 vacancies have been filled.

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Arizona voters to decide single-subject rule amendment for citizen-initiated ballot measures

At the 2022 general election, Arizona voters will decide a constitutional amendment to require that citizen-initiated ballot measures embrace a single subject. The ballot measure would also require the initiative’s subject to be expressed in the ballot title, or else the missing subject would be considered void. 

Known as the single-subject rule, 16 states (of 26 with an initiative or veto referendum process) require that ballot initiatives address a single subject. Courts are often responsible for determining whether an initiative meets a single-subject rule if someone contests the initiative as violating the rule. 

The single-subject issue came up in a 2017 court case in which the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled that there was no single-subject rule for ballot initiatives. The case involved voter-approved Proposition 206, which enacted statutes related to minimum wage and paid sick time. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry argued that the initiative was two subjects in violation of a provision in the state constitution (Section 13 of Article 4) requiring that “every act shall embrace but one subject and matters properly connected therewith.” The Arizona Supreme Court held that the single-subject rule found in Section 13 of Article 4 applied to bills passed by the legislature but not citizen-initiated statutes.

State Rep. John Kavanagh (R-23) introduced the constitutional amendment into the Arizona State Legislature. He said, “It’s unfair to the people who you ask to vote to have more than one subject matter.” Joel Edman, director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, criticized the proposal, saying, “The trick is that what qualifies as a single subject is in the eye of the beholder.”

On March 4, 2021, the Arizona House of Representatives voted 31-28 to pass the constitutional amendment. On June 29, 2021, the Arizona State Senate voted 16-14 to approve the proposal. In both chambers, votes were along party lines, with Republicans voting to send the amendment to the ballot and Democrats voting against it. Since Republicans hold a one-member majority in each chamber, the amendment passed by the minimum number of required votes in the House and Senate.

The amendment is the second put on the 2022 Arizona ballot related to ballot initiative procedures. On June 25, the legislature referred an amendment to change the state’s laws on legislative alteration. It would allow the legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives if any portion has been declared unconstitutional or illegal by the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court.

The legislature can refer additional measures during the remainder of this year’s legislative session and the 2022 legislative session. Arizonans also have the power to initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment or repeal legislation via veto referendum. Signatures for 2022 ballot initiatives are due July 8, 2022.

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Arizona voters to decide a 2022 amendment that would change legislature’s ability to repeal initiatives

In 2022, voters in Arizona will decide a ballot measure to allow the state legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives in cases where the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court declare that a portion of the ballot initiative is unconstitutional or illegal. In Arizona, the legislature must propose a ballot measure to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives. Initiatives often include severability clauses, meaning that if the courts declare a provision to be unconstitutional, other provisions can remain valid. 

Arizona is one of two states—the other being California—that prohibits the legislature from repealing or amending a ballot initiative unless voters approve the changes through a new ballot measure. Arizona has an exception for changes that further an initiative’s purpose. Arizona adopted this restriction on legislative alterations in 1996 with the approval of Proposition 105, also known as the Voter Protection Act. 

An example of an Arizona ballot initiative that has been partially, but not entirely, struck down is Proposition 200 (1998). It established the Arizona Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC) and a public campaign finance system. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of Proposition 200 that triggered matching funds to candidates based on their opponent’s spending. The remainder of the law stayed in effect. 

The constitutional amendment was approved along party lines in the Senate and House. Republicans hold one-member majorities in each chamber. The amendment needed 16 votes in the state Senate, and it received the support of the 16 Senate Republicans. It needed 31 votes in the state House, and it received the support of the 31 House Republicans. No Democrats voted for the proposal. State Rep. Athena Salman (D) said the 2022 amendment is “a very sneaky way to undermine the Voter Protection Act without actually having to repeal the Voter Protection Act.” Rep. Mark Finchem (R) stated, “It’s true that we have certain things in law that were referred to the voters or that the voters established. I have a real struggle with believing that that pre-empts any future ask to the voters for clarity and precision.”

Arizona voters approved 60% (44 of 73) of the amendments that the legislature put on the ballot since 1985. The legislature referred an average of 4 amendments to the ballot between 1985 and 2020, although legislators put no amendments on the ballot in 2020. As of June 25, legislators had referred one constitutional and one statutory change to the 2022 ballot. They can refer additional measures during the remainder of this year’s legislative session and the 2022 legislative session. Arizonans also have the power to initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment or repeal legislation via veto referendum. Signatures for 2022 ballot initiatives are due July 8, 2022.

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Arizona Secretary of State rejects recall petitions against state House speaker

Recall supporters had until June 17 to submit the necessary signatures to recall Arizona state House speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers (R). The Patriot Party of Arizona submitted an estimated 24,500 signatures at the deadline. Since the recall campaign did not attach the statutorily required date-stamped recall application to each of their 2,040 petition sheets, the secretary of state’s office rejected their filing.

The Patriot Party of Arizona started the recall effort on February 17 and needed to submit at least 22,331 signatures to require a recall election. The recall petition criticized Bowers over his failure as House speaker to call a special session during the coronovirus pandemic and for his failure to protect the integrity of the 2020 election.

Bowers said he was surprised that the recall effort failed. “I was gearing up to go through a recall,” he said. Bowers has served in the state House since 2015 and became House speaker in 2019. He was re-elected in 2020 with 35.5% of the vote.

As of June 9, 2021, Ballotpedia had tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for that point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Russell Bowers

Arizona House of Representatives

Arizona to vote on in-state tuition for non-citizen residents in 2022

In 2022, Arizonans will vote on a ballot measure to expand in-state tuition to some residents without legal citizenship status. The ballot measure would make in-state tuition available to non-citizen residents who (a) attended school in Arizona for at least two years and (b) graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona. Individuals who are considered nonresident aliens under federal law, such as the children of foreign diplomats and foreign government employees, would not be eligible.

The ballot measure would repeal provisions of Proposition 300, which 71% of voters approved in 2006. Proposition 300 provided that non-citizens could not receive certain state-subsidized services, benefits, or financial aid or in-state tuition rates.

State Sen. Paul Boyer (R-20) filed the ballot measure as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1044 (SCR 1044). On March 4, 2021, the Arizona State Senate voted 17-13 to approve the proposal, with Democrats and three Republicans supporting SCR 1044. On May 10, 2021, the Arizona House of Representatives voted 33-27 to refer the ballot measure to the ballot, with Democrats and four Republicans supporting the resolution. According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-25) did not want a vote on the bill unless a majority of House Republicans supported it. However, State Reps. Michelle Udall (R-25) and Joel John (R-4) motioned for a vote and were joined by Democrats and two other Republicans.

Republicans hold 31 House seats and Democrats hold 29 House seats. Rep. Udall said, “We need more college educated teachers, health care workers, lawyers, engineers and a host of other occupations. The youth this bill seeks to help shouldn’t be blamed or judged based on others’ actions. They were brought here as minors, as children.” State Rep. John Fillmore (R-16), who voted against the measure, stated, “Americans should not have to pay for non-American citizens, illegals, giving them favored status for their trespass and invasion into America.” 

The ballot measure is the first certified for the ballot in Arizona for 2022. Since 1985, the state legislature referred an average of five proposals to the ballot during each election cycle. As of May 10, ten legislative referrals have passed at least one chamber of the Arizona State Legislature. A simple majority is required in each legislative chamber to refer a measure to the ballot. This applies to both statutes and constitutional amendments. The 2021 legislative session is expected to adjourn on May 31. 

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Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould retires

Andrew Gould retired as an associate justice of the Arizona Supreme Court on April 1. He had announced that he would retire from the court on March 12.

Governor Doug Ducey (R) appointed Gould to the state supreme court on Nov. 28, 2016, after a new bill expanded the court from five justices to seven. Gould won a retention election in 2020, receiving 68.1% of the vote. His current term would have expired in January 2027.

Ducey will appoint a replacement justice to the state supreme court to fill this vacancy. Newly-appointed judges must stand for retention to remain on the court during the next general election after they serve at least two years on the bench.

The Arizona Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. Republican governors appointed all seven judges on the court. Governor Ducey appointed five, and former Gov. Janice Kay Brewer (R) appointed two.

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Arizona supreme court justice schedules retirement

Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould has scheduled his retirement for April 1, 2021. Gould’s replacement will be Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s (R) sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Under Arizona law, justices on the Arizona Supreme Court are selected through the assisted appointment method for six-year renewable terms. Following the initial appointment, judges are subject to a retention election in the next general election which occurs more than two years after the appointment.

Gould joined the Arizona Supreme Court in 2016. He was appointed by Governor Ducey.

Before serving on the state supreme court, Gould served as a judge with Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals from 2011 to 2016. He served as a judge with the Yuma County Superior Court from 2001 to 2011. Gould served as chief civil deputy for the Yuma County Attorney’s Office from 1999 to 2001. Previously, he worked as a civil litigator in private practice.

Following Gould’s retirement, the Arizona Supreme Court will include the following members:

• Robert Brutinel, appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in 2010

• Ann Timmer, appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in 2012

• Clint Bolick, appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in 2016

• John Lopez IV, appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in 2016

• James Beene, appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in 2019

• Bill Montgomery, appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in 2019

In 2021, there have been 10 supreme court vacancies in nine of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.

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Arizona is 7th state to order in-person school instruction, others schedule openings

On March 15, Arizona became the seventh state to require at least part-time instruction for certain grade levels. Oregon will join the list in two weeks, and Washington will join in three.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R-Ariz.) March 3 executive order requiring public schools to offer in-person instruction took effect March 15. High schools and middle schools in high-transmission counties are exempt from the order. Parents can still keep their children in virtual classes.

On March 12, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an executive order requiring public elementary schools to reopen no later than March 29 for hybrid or full-time in-person instruction. The order also requires public schools to open for grades 6-12 by April 19. Parents can still keep their children in fully remote instruction.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also said on March 12 he will soon issue an emergency proclamation requiring elementary schools to provide students at least two partial days of in-person instruction by April 5. Schools must provide older students the same by April 19. As of March 15, Inslee had not signed the proclamation.  

All three states had previously left reopening decisions to school districts.


  • Four states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.M.) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
  • Five states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, N.H., Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction
  • Two states (Ariz., W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
  • Thirty-nine states left decisions to schools or districts