by Taylor Swick
During the 2017 Legislative session, multiple Republican sponsored bills were passed and then signed into law by Governor Ducey that will severely stifle, if not end, the ability of voters to initiate their own ballot measures in Arizona and that weaken the Voter Protection Act that protects these ballot measures.
The issue for the Legislators who sponsored and voted in favor of these bills is that voters support the initiative process and the Voter Protection Act. This was demonstrated in a poll that asked voters both about the Voter Protection Act and their support of industries that were started because of successful ballot measures in the past. One such industry that is supported by those questioned in the poll and that came from a voter initiative is Arizona’s medical marijuana industry.
In the Arizona Public Opinion Poll conducted by Remington Research Group on March 7 and March 8, 2017, 1,371 registered voters were surveyed about legislative attempts to repeal or weaken Proposition 105, the Voter Protection Act. (NOTE: This survey was weighted to match the expected turnout demographics for the 2018 General Election. The Margin of Error is +/-3% with a 95% level of confidence and the totals do not always equal 100% due to rounding.)
Some of the questions and answers from this survey that relate to the cannabis industry are listed below:
Q: Arizona’s Voter Protection Act ensures laws passed by Arizona citizens through a ballot measure or referendum cannot be changed. There is a proposal in the State Legislature to submit a ballot measure that would weaken or eliminate Arizona’s Voter Protection Act. Do you support or oppose this proposal?
Strongly support: 8%
Somewhat support: 8%
TOTAL SUPPORT: 16%
Somewhat oppose: 10%
Strongly oppose: 53%
TOTAL OPPOSE: 63%
Prompt: I will now read you a handful of brief statements concerning the proposal to reduce or eliminate Arizona’s Voter Protection Act. Please indicate, after hearing each statement, if it makes you more likely or less likely to support the proposal to reduce or eliminate Arizona’s Voter Protection Act.
Q: Reducing or eliminating the Voter Protection Act will allow politicians to repeal the voter approved law that allows for access to medical marijuana.
More likely to support: 22%
Less likely to support: 60%
No difference: 17%
Q: If a question to reduce or eliminate the Arizona Voter Protection Act were to appear on an election ballot, and the election were held today, would you vote yes to reduce or eliminate the Voter Protection Action, or would you vote no.
Q: If your State Senator or Representative supported the weakening or elimination of the Voter Protection Act, would this make you more likely to support or more likely to oppose their re-election?
More likely to support: 12%
More likely to oppose: 71%
What do the results from this poll signify? One thing that seems to stand out is that the bills passed by the Legislature this session that do harm to voter initiatives and the Voter Protection Act go strongly against what Arizona’s voters feel is right. Potentially that signals that a majority of the Legislature now is out of touch with what their constituents want or that the legislative attempts to harm the Voter Protection Act and initiatives were done to benefit those in power rather than the people who elected them.
One thing we can determine is that Arizona’s cannabis industry will have a much harder time passing anything at the ballot in the future unless these new laws are deemed unconstitutional or challenged at the ballot.
All rights reserved, AMMA PAC, January, 2017