Pubdate: Sun, 04 Sep 2016
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Arizona Republic


Rulings by two Superior Court judges will give voters a swing at two 
controversial ballot measures. That's a good thing. The effort to 
legalize marijuana and the push to increase Arizona's minimum wage to 
$12 an hour deal with issues that are complex and unlikely to be 
considered by the Legislature.

Arizona's Constitution provides the ballot-initiative process to 
allow supporters of such ideas the right to go directly to voters to 
make their case. Arizona voters deserve the chance to decide these 
timely and important questions. These initiatives aren't simple. Is 
legalizing marijuana for recreational use the logical next step after 
voters approved medical marijuana? Should the state see this as a way 
to allow adults to make their own choices about an intoxicant? Will 
legalization send the message to young people that Arizona endorses 
getting stoned?

There are also questions about whether the initiative's structure for 
licensed sales outlets for marijuana creates monopolies. Some say 
Arizona should wait until there is more evidence of how things work 
out in states that have already legalized recreational marijuana, 
such as our neighbor Colorado. Others say evidence shows enough harm 
that Arizona should just say no.

The challenge to the legalization initiative, Proposition 205, 
alleged that backers are deceiving voters with a 100word summary that 
does not adequately explain how passing this measure would impact 
other laws, including those dealing with driving, child custody and workplaces.

Those who asked Maricopa Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry to toss 
the measure off the ballot included Maricopa County Attorney Bill 
Montgomery and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who have been 
harsh critics of legalizing pot and active opponents.

The judge rejected their arguments. And this past week, the Arizona 
Supreme Court upheld the ruling.

Opponents of increasing the minimum wage, Proposition 206, are also 
staunch opponents of the idea. They challenged the validity of the 
petition effort that gathered 120,000 more signatures than the 
150,642 needed to qualify for the ballot. The Secretary of State's 
Office did random checks and reduced the number, but the measure 
still qualified. Opponents want to reduce the number below the 
threshold for making the ballot.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joshua Rogers dismissed the 
case, saying the challengers failed to file their suit within the 
time limit for doing so. The Supreme Court upheld his ruling.

This initiative, too, is fraught with competing arguments.

Is it fair for people to work for wages that don't lift them out of 
poverty? Does government create problems for businesses by mandating 
wages that could drive up costs or reduce hiring?

Opponents of this measure include the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. 
The Arizona Restaurant and Hospitality Association launched the court 

But an idea silenced in a courtroom will not go away. Both of these 
measures deal with pressing issues that Arizona voters should decide 
after weighing the arguments.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom