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Medicaid Expansion: This was passed by a bipartisan group of legislators. Then the United Republican Alliance of Principled Conservatives group took out petitions to put it on the 2014 ballot but did not have enough signatures. So 36 Republican lawmakers are asking a judge to invalidate the plan. They filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jan Brewer that contends the levy on hospitals is a tax. The Goldwater Institute is representing the legislators. The LWVAZ supports the expansion and is working to help citizens get signed up for the coverage.
Biggs vs Brewer, et al, (CV2013-011699) was heard in Maricopa County Superior Court on December 13, 2013. A Minute Entry dated December 18 says the matter is "under advisement." Judge Cooper did not indicate at the hearing when she would rule on pending motions but the deadline for the expansion provisions became effective on January 1, 2014.
Abortion Rights: AZ had a petition pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down the legislature's 20-week abortion restrictions, Horne v. Issacson (13-402). On January 14,2014, the high court refused to disturb an appellate court ruling that said the law is unconstitutional. Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, February 25, 2014, that AZ cannot cut off family-planning funding to Planned Parenthood simply because the organization also provides abortions.
Clean Elections Commission: The commission went to court as the new law (H2593) scraps the current limit on what legislative candidates can take from political action committees. Individuals were giving $400 and now can give $4000.The court refused to block the higher cap on donations from taking effect. This could keep candidates from using the Clean Elections funds. On Oct. 15, 2013, the AZ Court of Appeals accepted special action on jurisdiction and granting relief, with opinion to follow. It also ordered Ken Bennett, in capacity of SoS office, from enforcing or implementing HB2593 pending further order of this court. On December 17, 1013, the AZ Supreme Court ruled that political candidates can accept much larger sums of money from donors.Candidates who run with private money can raise more than those who run with publicly financed money as this remains the same amount.
AZ Citizens Clean Elections Commission et al. v. Ken Bennett, et al. (CV2013-010338) will return to the Maricopa County Superior Court.
SB1070 Update: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 5, 2013, ruled AZ cannot enforce yet another provision of this bill aimed at illegal immigration. The ruling affirms a lower-court ruling barring the state from enforcing the provision which would punish those who knowingly transport or harbor someone in this country illegally.
Arizona Ballots: SoS Ken Bennett is directing election officials to separate their federal election ballots from state and local races to keep those who cannot prove citizenship from voting in the latter. This would pertain to those citizens who have registered with the federal form.
Kris W. Kobach et al. v. United States Election Assistance Commission (13-4095-EFM-DJW)is suing the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC)to impose the two tier system based upon registration with the AZ voter registration form of the federal motor-voter form. The Judge, in his Order Remanding Matter to EAC for Final Agency Action gave the EAC until January 17, 2014 to respond to the order of the Court. The judge's order gives the interim executive director of the EAC authority to respond to the Court's order, but the only appropriate response for the executive director is to deny the request again to maintain the status quo. Whatever the district court in Kansas rules is likely to be appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.On January 17,2014, the Commission denied the state's request.
Independent Redistricting Commission: Leach et al v. AZ Independent Redistricting Commission (CV2012-007344), the legislature's challenge to the AIRC's congressional districts map, is proceeding in Maricopa County Superior Court. This is expected to go to trial in 2014. No action is currently pending.
Harris et al. v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (CV-12-0894-PHX-ROS-NVW-RRC), the legislature's challenge to the AIRC state legislative districts map, was heard by a three judge panel of federal judges on March 22, 2013, and concluded on March 30, 2013. Supplemental briefs addressing the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder wrapped up on August 9. A decision is pending.
The primary filing deadline for candidates is May 1 so there should be a decision shortly on whether the 2012 maps will be used.
The legislature's challenge to the constitutionality of the voter-approved initiative creating the AZ Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) to determine election boundaries rather than the state legislature, Arizona State Legislature v. AZ Independent Redistricting Commission (CV12-01211-PHX-PGR). The oral argument was heard in U.S. District court on January 24, 2014. The court has not yet ruled.
In particular, Dr. Berman focuses on the never-ending dispute about signature collection and validation for getting initiatives/referendums on the ballot, including the use of paid vs. volunteer circulators. Suggestions for improving the system are provided.