Voters face nine propositions in November 6 general election

By Christopher Fox Graham

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

While President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have grabbed headlines heading toward the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election, there are numerous state propositions on the ballot.

The first block of propositions are proposed amendments to the Arizona State Constitution. The bills were written by members of the Arizona State Legislature but must be approved by voters to become law.

Proposition 114

Proposition 114 would protect victims of crime from lawsuits by those injured committing or attempting to commit the crimes.

For instance, if a burglar trips and falls inside a home while burglarizing it, the proposition would prevent him for suing the victimized homeowner for his medical bills.

The proposition is backed by the Arizona Citizens Defense League and then-Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce [R-District 18] before he was recalled by voters. No one wrote in opposition to Proposition 114.

Proposition 115

Proposition 115 would change several rules relating to Arizona's judicial system. If approved:

Terms for appeals court and Arizona Supreme Court justices would extend from six to eight years.

Retirement age for justices would rise from age 70 to 75.

Currently, if there is a vacancy on appeals courts or the Arizona Supreme Court, a five-member commission selects candidates to choose a replacement. The commissioners are nominated by the Arizona State Bar and appointed by the governor.

The proposition would give the governor power to choose four commissioners and the state bar just one.

For an open court seat, the commission gives the governor three nominees. The proposition would require at least eight nominees.

If there were two or more vacancies, the governor could select more than one nominee, and at least six nominees would have to be put forward per open seat.

Opinions of all state courts would have to be available online.

While current judges and bar association leaders support the measure, former bar association leaders and former judges, including four Supreme Court justices, oppose it. Most of the disagreement centers over the possible politicization of commissioner selection.

Proposition 116

The Small Business Job Creation Act would raise the limit of agricultural and trade industry machinery exempted from property taxes from $50,000 to $68,079, adjusted for inflation.

Small business associations support the measure. No one wrote in opposition to Proposition 116.

Proposition 117

Proposition 117 would limit taxes on property values from rising more than 5 percent per year.

If the value of a property suddenly rose 20 percent in a year due to an improvement, county assessors could only treat the improvement as a maximum 5 percent increase.

Supporters say the proposition will prevent "runaway" fax increases as Arizona's real estate market recovers from the Great Recession and would have slowed tax increases during the rise of the housing bubble if it had been in place then.

Opponents say the proposition does not prevent local governments from raising tax rates.

Proposition 118

Proposition 118 uses a complex formula that, simply put, would pay schools at least 2.5 percent from profits earned on its permanent land-endowment trust fund. Money in the fund currently about $3.2 billion comes from selling and leasing state lands.

As it stands now, schools get nothing in lean years but as much as $80 million when the economy is strong. The proposition would guarantee schools get some stable payout even if the economy is struggling.

The proposition is supported by teachers and elected officials. No one wrote in opposition to Proposition 118.

Proposition 119

Proposition 119 would permit land exchanges to protect military installations. Any land exchanges would have to financially benefit the state.

Any approved land exchange then goes to voters for approval.

The proposition is supported by a diverse mix of groups, ranging from the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club to U.S. military personnel stationed in Arizona. League of Arizona Towns and Cities President and Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig also wrote in favor. No one wrote in opposition to Proposition 119.

Proposition 120

Proposition 120 would declare sovereignty over the state's natural resources by repealing part of the Arizona Constitution that gave 11 million acres of public land to the federal government in 1910 as part of the Arizona-New Mexico Enabling Act, which allowed both territories to apply for statehood. Federal buildings and American Indian reservations are specifically excluded from the act.

Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a previous incarnation of the bill, stating costs for liability for fighting wildfires, managing public lands and conforming to environmental laws would be too high for the state.

The state would likely face an immediate constitutionality lawsuit over the bill from the federal government, which Arizona would likely lose as its sovereignty always trumps state sovereignty.

The bill is supported by ranching organizations, but opposed by environmental groups, which call the measure a "land grab" violating both the Arizona and U.S. constitutions.

Proposition 121

The citizen-initiated Open Elections/Open Government "top two" proposition, aims to replace the state's partisan primary with a new structure in 2014.

The top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party, would advance to the general election.

In parts of the state where one party dominates, candidates who win their party's nomination often run unopposed in the general election, meaning only primary voters have a say in who's elected. Proponents of the proposition argue that the current structure leads to extremist candidates winning partisan primaries but the proposition would permit all voters to choose a more moderate alternative candidate and reduce partisanship.

Opponents argue the proposition would eliminate "spoiler" candidates and potentially limit elections to two candidates from the same party.

The measure is supported by elected officials, firefighter associations and law enforcement associations. The measure is opposed by Brewer, the Libertarian and Green parties, Republican lawmakers and conservative advocacy groups.

Proposition 204

Proposition 204 would renew a 1 percent sales tax increase approved in 2010 to fund education, transportation and health services. The state tax rate would stay at 6.6 percent.

The proposition is supported by educators,-school districts and the League of Women Voters. The proposition is opposed by Brewer, business trade associations and Von Gausig, writing on behalf of the League of Arizona Towns and Cities.

Christopher Fox Graham can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or email

Copyright 2012 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Read Full Article at Camp Verde Journal&pid=89&catid=20&catname=Local Politics