House Bill 2244 imposes a “strict compliance” legal standard on measures that citizen groups want to bring to the ballot. What that ultimately could mean would be up to the courts. But in a lengthy debate, senators sketched scenarios in which it could head off potential problems, or could go as far as disqualifying a voter's signature if he used a shortened version of his name instead of how it appears on his voter registration.
Republican lawmakers who supported House Bill 2244 said since initiatives create law through the ballot, it's important the process is rigorous and strictly follows the law.
But Democrats, as well as numerous civic groups, activists and others, said the bill was designed to create a higher hurdle for initiatives, which often propose laws that the GOP-controlled Legislature opposes. They complained petition signatures could be tossed for something as minor as using a wrong font size.
Strict compliance will replace the “substantial compliance" provision that currently gives judges more discretion on how they consider legal challenges
Ducey called the bill “common-sense legislation (that) preserves the integrity of the process by ensuring that those seeking to make lasting changes to our laws comply with current laws.” It also holds citizen initiatives to the same legal standard as referenda, he wrote in his signing message.
The bill passed with near-unanimous Republican support and solid Democratic opposition.
The governor last month signed a bill that bans the practice of paying petition circulators by the signature. A third bill, awaiting a final vote in the state Senate, would impose new regulations that initiative organizers must follow, such as assuming liability for errors a paid circulator might make. These regulations, if signed into law, also would be subject to strict compliance.