‘Dark money’, medical debt initiatives take large leads

‘Dark money’, medical debt initiatives take large leads

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard appears to have finally succeeded in his quest to shine a light on so-called “dark money” political contributions. 

Prop 211 leads 73% to 27% as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to unofficial early returns. If approved by voters, the initiative, also called the “Voters’ Right to Know Act,” would require organizations that fund political advertisements to disclose any contributor who spends $5,000 or more to an organization that spends $50,000 on a statewide or legislative advertising campaign. It would also apply to local elections on a smaller scale at $2,500 in individual donations for campaigns that spend $25,000 or more. 

“Arizonans really want transparency!” Goddard said in a text message.

Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin said the results are unsurprising and that that every time proponents tested the measure since 2016, it performed well. 

Chuck Coughlin

“The challenges was always getting by Ducey and the chamber,” Coughlin said. “End of the Doug Ducey dark money era. Thank God and Terry Goddard.” 

Prop 209, the only other measure put on the ballot by voters, is ahead by a similar margin at 72% to 28%. The initiative, also called the Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act, would increase protections for Arizonans with medical debt, including limiting the interest rate on that debt to 3% and increasing the projected value of people’s homes. 

Legislative referrals 

The Arizona Legislature referred eight ballot measures to voters this year dealing with taxes, college tuition for what are known as “Dreamers,” voter ID laws and the initiative process itself. 

So far, only two of those measures – dealing with property tax exemptions and initiatives – have decisive margins in the polls, though there are still hundreds of thousands of votes to count statewide. 

Prop 130, currently leading 63% to 37%, would clean up statutory language to restore a property tax exemption for disabled veterans. 

Meanwhile, Prop 128, a constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature power to amend approved ballot measures if they are found to have unconstitutional or illegal language, looks on its way to defeat. It is trailing 36% to 64%, according to early returns. 

Two other ballot measures dealing with initiatives are stuck in tighter races. 

Prop 129, a second proposed constitutional amendment would limit citizen initiatives to a single subject is currently up 55% to 45%.  

And Prop 132 is up 51% to 49%. The proposal would require an initiative or referendum to approve a tax to receive 60% of the vote to pass. 

It’s too soon to tell whether Arizona will join 45 other states in the country that already have an elected lieutenant governor. Prop 131, which would have voters cast a single vote for a governor and lieutenant governor running on a joint ticket starting in 2026, leads 55% to 45%. 

If passed, the lieutenant governor would replace the secretary of state as first in the line of succession if the governor leaves office. After being elected, the governor would have to appoint the lieutenant governor into any position that is within their authority, including director of the Arizona Department of Administration or the governor’s chief of staff. 

Sens. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, and Sean Bowie, D-Phoenix, pushed the resolution that put Prop 131 before voters.   

Bowie argued the measure would help depoliticize the secretary of state. 

“We’ve had a lot of folks running for secretary of state who really want to be governor… The secretary of state is supposed to be impartial when it comes to elections,” Bowie said 

The fate of the proposal to make all in-state students, including “Dreamers,” eligible for in-state tuition rates at state universities and community colleges is still up in the air. Prop 308, which would allow Arizona residents to receive the tuition rate regardless of immigration status, currently leads 51% to 49%. 

A proposal by legislators to increase voter ID requirements for Arizonans is also close. Prop 309 was proposed by Republican legislators who argued the measure would provide needed election security improvements. 

It currently trails 49% to 51%. 

Detractors, including 14 of the state’s 15 county records, said the measure was unnecessary. A letter from the Arizona Association of County Recorders said the measure “addresses a non-existent problem,” and “will likely disenfranchise thousands of voters.” Other concerns included that the proposition would impose new burdens on voters, delaying tabulation results and jeopardizing voter data privacy. 

And it’s still unclear whether voters will approve a new tax for rural fire districts. 

Prop 310 would levy a tenth of a cent in sales taxes to fund rural fire districts that are understaffed and lacking proper equipment. The measure, which was pushed by Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, currently trails 48% to 52%.

This story has been revised to include updated numbers and quotes.