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Special session might follow ruling on Prop. 108

Arizona lawmakers are considering another special session now that the state Supreme Court has ruled that a legislative referral must be removed from the ballot because it violates the single-subject rule in the state Constitution.

The state’s highest court ruled Aug. 3 that Proposition 108 won’t be considered by Arizona voters during the November general election. The court didn’t include an explanation to back up the decision, but noted a more detailed opinion will be released soon.

Lawmakers passed the referral in an effort to protect the right to vote by secret ballot in elections to form labor unions and in elections for state officers.

A spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office said Gov. Jan Brewer is very interested in allowing the voters of Arizona the opportunity to protect the sanctity of the secret ballot. And Brewer is waiting to hear from the House speaker and the Senate president regarding lawmakers’ availability and interest to act.

House Speaker Kirk Adams said it would be “difficult but feasible” to round up enough lawmakers during the campaign season for what would be the ninth special session of the current Legislature.

“That discussion started yesterday afternoon with the decision of the court and that’s something we’re looking at also,” Adams said. “We’re at the leadership level at this point, both (House and Senate).”

In addition, the governor and some lawmakers have floated the idea of calling a special session to change portions of the state’s new immigration law after a federal judge blocked the most significant parts of it from taking effect.

At this point, it’s not clear whether any special session call will include changes to SB1070.

Adams was unclear about what exactly lawmakers expect to happen. But any changes to the Prop. 108 ballot measure would have to come soon in order to meet the Secretary of State’s deadline to receive ballot measure language to place on the ballot.

“Well, again, we’re in exact the same spot as we are in S1070. It’s embryonic stage in terms of discussions,” Adams said. ”It’s what can we do, can we get it done, when can we do it, what are our deadlines? So maybe by the end of the day if not tomorrow we will have some more firm grasp of facts and then we will be able to make a decision. There are some deadlines for card check.”

Goldwater Institute attorney Clint Bolick said lawmakers would have to act within days on a revised version of Prop. 108 if they want to ensure voters can decide this issue in November.

He said the measure would be the state’s best defense against any new federal laws that would strip away secret-ballot elections for creating a labor union, he said.

“We hope that the governor will call a special session so that Arizona voters can decide the important question of whether workers will have the right to secret ballot in union representation elections – a right that has existed under federal law for 75 years but is in grave jeopardy,” Bolick said.

The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represented the campaign committee supporting Prop. 108.

The Legislature originally referred Prop. 108 to voters during the 2009 session. It was designed to thwart a federal proposal to implement what is known as “card-check” elections used to unionize business workforces.

The federal proposal, known as the Employee Free Choice Act, would do away with workforce organizing elections where workers cast their ballots in secrecy. The act mandates that a union would be formed if labor organizers secure the written approval of a majority of a business’ workers.

-Reporters Luige del Puerto and Jeremy Duda contributed to this story.

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