Officials sound off on upcoming propositions

KINGMAN - Arizona Sen. Ron Gould, Rep. Nancy McLain and County Assessor Ron Nicholson voiced their opinions about the propositions on November's ballot at the Mohave Republican Forum Tuesday evening.

Both Gould and McLain voiced support for Proposition 106, which would make it illegal for state or local governments to require Arizona residents to have health insurance.

If the proposition passes, it would strengthen the state's argument in a lawsuit against the federal government's new healthcare bill, McLain said. The federal healthcare bill is designed to put health insurance companies out of business, so everyone has to be on government-run health insurance, she said. The Legislature is hoping that through lawsuits the state will be able to get the federal healthcare bill thrown out before it goes into effect in 2014.

Gould and McLain also voiced support for Proposition 107, which would end affirmative action-type programs by local and state governments and schools. Such programs give preferences to minorities during hiring practices and contract work.

"If we're ever going to get away from racism, we have to get away from these types of programs," Gould said. "We've tilted things too much in the other direction."

Affirmative action programs create a disservice to minorities, Gould said. Minorities hired under these types of programs are discriminated against even more by people who feel that they got the job because they are aminority and not because they earned the job based on their skills, he said.

Proposition 109, which would make hunting and fishing in the state a constitutional right, was an attempt by the Legislature to protect the activities in the state from animal rights groups, Gould explained. Making hunting a constitutional right increases the number of signatures a group has to collect to put a petition on the ballot to change the law, he said.

Both he and McLain supported Proposition 109.

They also voiced support for Proposition 110. It would allow the state to exchange state trust land for federal land after following a public hearing and advertising procedure and placing the item on the ballot.

The main purpose behind the proposition is to protect the military bases around the state from encroachment, McLain said.

Nicholson asked if exchanging the state land for federal land would decrease the amount of income the state would receive from the use of those lands.

Gould said no, the proposition requires the state to get two appraisals of both parcels of the land and make sure that they are of equal worth before going through with the exchange. The exchange of property would also have to be approved by a vote of the people, he said.

The two representatives were split on Proposition 111, which would rename the Secretary of State's Office as the Lt. Governor's Office and require the winners of a primary election for Lt. Governor and Governor from the same party to run on the same ticket in the general election.

Gould said he had no problem with changing the name of the office but felt having the chief election officer for the state run on the same ticket as the governor created an issue.

Besides, what if the two candidates didn't like each other? he asked.

McLain said she voted in the Legislature to place the item on the ballot because so many people didn't realize that if something happened to the governor, the secretary of state takes over. Many people don't take this into account when voting for a secretary of state, she said.

She wasn't keen on the two candidates having to run on the same ticket, but she said she thought the name change was not a bad idea. What we really need is an education program to teach voters the line of succession in the state, Gould said.

Both Gould and McLain approved of Proposition 112. The proposition would increase the deadline to get petition signatures into the Secretary of State's office from four months to six months.

This would give state elections departments and the Secretary of State's Office more time to verify signatures and allow challenges to work through the court system, McLain said.

They also approved of Proposition 113, which would protect an employee's right to a secret ballot in a union election.

This was another attempt by the Legislature to pre-empt a proposed federal law, McLain said. Congress is looking at the possibility of a card check law that would require union elections to have open petitions, where everyone could see who was in favor or against forming a union, she said.

The problem with an open petition is that members in favor of the union or employers could try to intimidate employees.

Passing the proposition would give the state better standing in a lawsuit against the federal government if the congressional law passes, Gould said.

Both Gould and McLain were opposed to the passage of Proposition 203, which would allow marijuana to be used for medical conditions.

Gould said he had no problem with using marijuana for true medical conditions, but a number of people who lived in California had access to medical marijuana and didn't have a true medical condition.

"This is de-facto legalization of marijuana," he said.

"This (the proposition) doesn't go through the normal procedure of having a doctor prescribe a drug for a specific condition and a pharmacy dispense it."

According to the proposition, patients would get the drug from a state-certified dispensary. There are already a large number of people signing up to become a dispensary in order to make a profit off of this, Gould said.

According to the proposition, any approved medical marijuana dispensaries must be non-profit organizations and cannot charge more than what is necessary to grow and prepare the drug.

McLain pointed out that one of the qualifying conditions to receive the drug was chronic pain. Chronic pain is hard to test for and differs from person to person, she said.

It would be easy for someone to claim they were in great pain and get a prescription for marijuana through this proposition, she said.

She also pointed out that the issue had made the ballot twice before and had been approved by voters, only to be tossed out by the courts the first time and changed by the Legislature the second time.

Gould and McLain were both in favor of propositions 301 and 302. The two propositions would sweep funds from the state Land Conservation Fund and the First Things First programs to help balance the state budget. Both programs were approved by voters and have to go back to voters in order to be changed, Gould said.

The Land Conservation Fund was designed to help local cities and counties purchase and protect open space, McLain said. A city asking for funds from the program must provide a 50-percent match to what they receive from the state.

Very few local governments have taken advantage of the fund in the past and few have the money to do so right now, Gould said.

The Legislature wants to do the same with the First Things First program, which provides funding for early childhood education, he said. Many people believe the program is redundant, inefficient and hasn't benefited children or families, Gould said.

He agreed that the state needs to roll its spending back and live within its means. However, if the proposition didn't pass, the state would be forced to make more cuts to programs that provide better services than First Things First, he said.