Friday, May 1, 2020

HIRING: These Three Arizona Initiatives Ramp Up Paid Signature Gathering With Two Months To Go and 9th Circuit Upholding "Strikeout Law"

Three Arizona initiative campaigns are hiring paid circulators as the stay-at-home restrictions are easing up and the deadline to turn in hundreds of thousands of signatures is 2 months away!

The hiring surge is even more interesting in light of today's Ninth Circuit court decision to not block the so-called "strikeout law". That means that opponents of the initiatives can subpoena paid circulators and knock out all of the signatures collected if they do not appear in court.

The initiatives feverishly hiring circulators are the efforts to (1) legalize marijuana, (2) "Invest In Ed" by increasing taxes on those earning more than $250,000/year, and (3) revises prison sentences for non-dangerous offenses.

The initiative campaigns are currently contracting with three different petition-gathering companies. Besides the strikeout law, the Legislature has now required the companies to pay circulators by the hour rather than by the valid signature collected and the courts must ensure "strict compliance" rather than the "substantial compliance" that benefits individual candidates (like Rep. Shawnna Bolick this week).

Interestingly, this pandemic has crimped petition-gathering over the past 6 weeks. BUT, during the next 8 weeks, look for the initiatives to focus on hiring mostly IN-STATE circulators.

In fact, an Arizona's Politics review of publicly-filed records shows that of the approximately 276 paid circulators registering during the past 10 days, only one is from out-of-state.

The main reason for this is obvious - the pandemic-related restrictions. HOWEVER,  this will also cut down on the amount of money the initiative campaigns will need to set aside for the significant backside costs imposed by the strikeout law - travel-related costs for the out-of-state circulators who have been the backbone of petition circulators.

Two caveats: (1) as Eric Spencer points out in his article on today's strikeout law ruling, the case does continue even without the injunction. And (2), other initiative efforts are continuing to collect signatures with volunteer circulators.

The deadline to turn in the 237,645 valid signatures (for initiatives) is July 2.

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