Arizona ballot 2010 - Propositions

I received my early ballot in the mail on Friday, so I guess it's time to really sit down and figure out the issues.  I'm going to focus on propositions first, since they tend to be a little more complicated. I'll follow up with elected positions next weekend.

Today's references:
Prop 106: This proposes an amendment to the Arizona Constitution that would "allow individuals and employers to pay providers directly for care without penalty or fine; prohibit any rule or law from compelling participation in any particular health care system; allow direct payment to a provider for any lawful service; and provide for purchase and sale of insurance in private health care systems without prohibition by rule or law." It's a revision of a failed 2008 proposition, and is a response to a national health care mandate.  I happen to be in favor of President Obama's health care reform and would love to see a public option.  I voted against the 2008 proposition, and plan to do so again this year. Additionally, I am loathe to amend our constitution unless it's something really important.  According to the Morrison Institute, most of what this proposition hopes to accomplish is either already possible (allowing direct payment to providers, purchase of insurance) or of questionable merit (a federal mandate, if lawfully passed, would preempt state law). Even if I agreed with this proposition, this wouldn't merit a constitutional amendment.

Prop 107 - Preferential Treatment or Discrimination Prohibition: This is another amendment to the constitution that "Prohibits the state from granting preferential treatment to or discriminating against any person or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin; exempts reasonably necessary qualifications based on sex, existing court orders and actions that would result in the loss of federal funds." (Project Vote Smart)  This is a difficult choice: I have mixed feelings about affirmative action programs, but having been an Affirmative Action Representative on hiring committees, I know that preferential treatment in hiring is not the general practice - at least, not in my experience.  The purpose of these programs is to ensure that all candidates are treated equally. Additionally, I am more persuaded by the arguments against this proposition in the Morrison Institute brief and Ballotpedia. We are not so advanced in this society that everyone is treated equally (the recent furor over the Cordoba House cultural center and even more recent suicides of bullied gay teens are sad examples). Yes, we elected a black president, but women still earn 78 cents to every dollar earned by men, students of color are still underrepresented in college graduation rates, etc.  I don't think we're ready to end affirmative action programs, nor does this issue warrant a constitutional amendment - I will vote no.

Prop 109 - Hunting and Fishing: Another constitutional amendment, this would protect the right to hunt and fish. I don't have anything against hunting and fishing, but I don't think it belongs in the state constitution. They are already handled to my satisfaction by current state law. I will vote no. (Morrison Institute's brief).

Prop 110 - State Trust Lands: This would "amend the Arizona Constitution to allow the state to exchange state trust land for other public land and permit the state to sell, lease or otherwise manage state trust land without auction or advertisement to avoid uses that would interfere with military installations, airspace or
operations." There are a lot of arguments for this amendment (including the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, with whom I usually agree), and no official ones against. While the analysis in the Morrison Institute's brief describes some possible concerns that I share, I'm sufficiently persuaded by the arguments for the amendment to vote yes and hope for the best.

Prop 111 - Lieutenant Governor: A constitutional amendment that "Changes the name of the office of Secretary of State to the office of Lieutenant Governor; provides that the nominees of each party for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, selected separately by voters at the primary election, shall run on one ticket and be voted on together in the general election." While I like the idea of a lieutenant governor position and can see the need of it in Arizona, I don't like that this amendment requires them to run on the same ticket as the Governor and be of the same party. A full third of Arizona voters are registered as Independents, but this amendment would effectively bar any viable Independent candidate from either office (AZ Republic columnist E.J. Montini wrote about this).  I'm going to vote no.

Prop 112: This proposition amends the constitution to require citizen's initiatives to be filed with the secretary of state's office 6 months prior to an election instead of 4.  The arguments for this amendment, as well as the Morrison Institute's brief, persuade me to vote yes.

Prop 113 - Secret Ballot for Union Elections: The last constitutional amendment on the ballot, it "guarantees the right under state law of individuals to vote by secret ballot where local, state, or federal law permits or requires elections, designations or authorizations for employee representation." I don't know enough about unions to be very knowledgeable about this, but Montini wrote a very persuasive editorial against it. Additionally, the Morrison Institute brief says that this is a response against possible federal legislation, which, if passed, would preempt state law anyway. I think I'll vote no.

Prop 203 - Medical Marijuana: An initiative that would allow" the use of marijuana for people with debilitating medical conditions who obtain a written certification from a physician and establishes a regulatory system governed by the Arizona Department of Health Services for establishing and licensing medical marijuana dispensaries." I'm going to vote no on this, because I think it's just an excuse for people to plea having "extreme pain" to get a prescription to smoke pot.  I think the conditions it's supposed to help are too vague.  If the American Cancer Association, FDA, or other medical organizations endorsed the use of marijuana to alleviate symptoms, I might be more convinced. Alternatively, if marijuana weren't illegal, I wouldn't have a problem (info from Morrison Institute). In general, I don't have a problem with marijuana being legalized, but I don't think this is the way to do it, and it just opens the way for too many questions and problems for me to approve it.

Prop 301 and Prop 302 are fund sweeps to add money from land conservation and the First Things First Program, respectively, to the state's general fund. I will vote no on both of these.  Our state legislature needs to come up with better ways to manage the state's horrid budget deficit than to gut these two beneficial programs. Passing them is a short term solution that doesn't address the real problems facing our state. Maybe if these propositions fail, they might be desperate enough to actually work together and compromise on solutions. For more information, here are the Morrison Institute briefs for 301 and 302.