‘Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax’ Looks ‘Optimistic’ for Legislative Referral to the Ballot

A transportation bill dubbed the “Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax” by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) is steadily advancing through the legislature, and its supporters say it will probably make it through the Arizona Legislature this year in a referral to the ballot. Senate Bill (SB) 1356 has passed the Senate, the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee, and the House Transportation Committee. Valley Metro’s new CEO Jessica Mefford-Miller said this week about it, “We are cautiously optimistic about SB 1356.”

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Arizona Free Enterprise Club Releases Endorsements for the 2022 State Election

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) recently released endorsements for the 2022 Arizona State Election.

“It is critical that Arizona elects leaders and policymakers who are able to articulate and stand up for individual liberties, free-market policies, and conservative values. We believe that these candidates are up to the challenge,” said Scot Mussi, AFEC club president.

AFEC endorsed 24 candidates from multiple legislative districts (LD) across Arizona. Five are running for State Senate, and the rest for the Arizona House of Representatives. The Arizona election is on November 8.

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Arizona Free Enterprise Club Labels Red4ED ‘One of the Most Expensive Failures in Arizona Political History’

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) analyzed the success of the Red4ED movement in Arizona since it launched a little over four years ago, and concluded that after spending over $30 million, the movement not only failed to accomplish anything, but failed to stop historic tax cuts. Red4Ed’s two initiatives and referendum were struck down by courts as “legally flawed,” resulting in AFEC labeling its efforts “the largest, most expensive failure in Arizona political history.” 

Arizona Educators United launched Red4Ed in 2018 ostensibly to increase teachers’ salaries and funding for K-12 education. People and teachers showed up all over, at the state capitol and at events and protests, wearing red shirts and carrying red signs. But AFEC said “the movement was quickly hijacked by the teachers’ unions and other out-of-state special interest groups.” It soon turned into “a singular quest to double the state income tax through a ballot initiative.”

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State Supreme Court Reaffirms Arizona’s Nation-Lowest Flat Income Tax

Arizona’s high court has pulled a ballot question from the November election that could have erased the state’s largest-ever income tax cut.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a veto initiative to repeal a gradual change from Arizona’s progressive income tax to a flat 2.5% wasn’t appropriate for the ballot process. The court didn’t immediately offer an analysis of the opinion.

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Arizona GOP Legislators and Gov. Ducey Drafting Legislation to Combat Initiative That Would Derail Historic Tax Cuts

Last year, Arizona enacted historic tax cuts, changing the state’s tax code law to mostly a 2.5% flat tax rate. But opponents collected enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot this fall, Prop. 307, that would reverse the legislation. In response, Republican state legislators are working with Gov. Doug Ducey to pass legislation that would make the initiative null and void — and maybe implement even more striking tax cuts. 

State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who sponsored legislation last year that would have repealed and replaced the historic tax cuts with an even more far reaching 1.5% tax rate, told The Arizona Sun Times, “I told the Governor’s office that the 2.5% tax rate he’s pushing for can only be the starting point. With yet another year of record budget surpluses of nearly $4 billion, the people of Arizona are being overtaxed. We must cut taxes even more during the budget process.” 

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Arizonans for Voter ID Act Makes Ballot, and 15 Election Integrity Bills Have Passed the Arizona House

The Arizona Legislature has voted to send the Arizonans for Voter ID Act to the ballot as a proposition this fall, and 15 more election integrity bills have passed the Arizona House. The Arizonans for Voter ID Act was initially launched as a citizens’ initiative by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which would have required 237,645 valid signatures to get on the ballot. SCR 1012, which passed along party lines, bypasses that time-consuming and often difficult process.

State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction), told the Arizona Sun Times, “Today the Senate Republican caucus met to discuss which bills they can support. We were able to get through much of what we have been proposing and received support from nearly all the members with two absent and not weighing in. I’m excited to see good election reform moving forward, ideas that will fortify election security so that voters can feel more secure about their votes. Bills deal with securing technology, ballot paper, chain of custody, removing drop boxes, improving signature verification, cleaning of the voter rolls, and many other items that we are looking to fix.”

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Initiative Modeled After Federal HR 1, ‘Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections,’ Seeks to Get on Ballot

A consortium of Left-leaning groups is seeking to get an initiative on the Arizona ballot that is very similar to the federal HR 1. “Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections” rolls back recent election integrity laws passed by the Arizona Legislature, makes it easier for people to vote without proving citizenship, and removes standard election fraud safeguards like requiring registering to vote in advance of elections. 

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club called the initiative “a leftist wish list of election law changes.” AFEC contends, “[T]heir federal takeover of elections has been held up in the U.S. Senate for months, so they have moved to ‘Plan B ’— taking over the election process in Arizona.”

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‘Easier to Vote, Harder to Cheat Act’ Seeks to Get on Ballot in Arizona

Over 70 election integrity-related bills have been proposed in the Arizona Legislature since the highly questioned 2020 election, as well as ballot initiatives. Lee Miller, a former attorney for the Arizona Republican Party, recently filed paperwork launching a petition drive to get the “Easier to Vote, Harder to Cheat Act” as an initiative on the ballot this fall. The initiative makes it easier to vote in four ways and harder to cheat in five ways. One of the provisions would shorten the time allowed for tabulating ballots.

Valerie Grosso-Turley, founder of the grassroots Arizona-based America Pack, looked at the initiative and told the Arizona Sun Times, “With the continued skepticism of the 2020 election still top of mind of many voters, Arizona’s extended ballot-counting process adds to the distrust and suspicion of voters. Every voter must have confidence in our elections regardless of party affiliation. Polling has consistently shown that a majority of Republicans believe Biden won through fraud. I don’t know if the ‘easier to vote, harder to cheat act’ is the solution, but I do support the ongoing conversation to find a solution.” 

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‘Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax’ Bill Likely to Pass Arizona Legislature

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is referring to a transportation bill that is sailing through the Arizona Legislature as a “Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax.” HB 2598, with its corresponding Senate version, SB 1356, would send to the ballot a question to voters of whether to extend the Prop. 400 tax increase for transportation for another 25 years. It would increase taxes by $33 billion, allowing localities to direct the money with very few strings attached. 

AFEC said the extension “creates a big slush fund for liberal city mayors to spend on light rail, street trollies, bike paths, trails, complete streets and other undefined ‘regional programs’ and NO REQUIREMENTS that the money be spent on actual freeways or roads to relieve congestion.” 

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Ken Cuccinelli Headlines Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Election Integrity Panel

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) held a forum on Tuesday entitled “Restoring Election Integrity in Arizona.” Former Republican official Ken Cuccinelli and other panelists discussed how the left started dominating elections, left-wing lawfare, poll observer problems, what’s going on at the federal level, and solutions to fix voter fraud.

Cuccinelli, who served as the deputy secretary of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump and as the Attorney General of Virginia, is now the national chairman for the Election Transparency Initiative. He warned that the Democrats have moved far to the left in recent years, and no longer want to uphold the Constitution with its voting protections and delegation of voting administration to the states. “They don’t believe the U.S. is great. They don’t like the Constitution.” 

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Arizonans for Voter ID Act Making Progress Getting on Ballot

People voting

A coalition of Arizona legislators and about 10 conservative groups launched an effort last month to get an initiative on the ballot that would combat voter fraud, the Arizonans for Voter ID Act. They began collecting signatures last week. Spearheaded by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the four-pronged plan would end the practice of voting without an ID — even for mail-in or dropped-off ballots. By requiring ID, ballot harvesting would become impossible. 

Scot Musser, president and executive director of The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, told The Arizona Sun Times that the response from people interested in helping has been tremendous. “At the Constitution Celebration event in Queen Creek this past weekend, there were long lines of people waiting to sign the petition or seeking to become petition circulators.” He said many politicians and others have reached out eager to join the effort.

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Major Conservative Groups Join Arizona Legislators to Launch New Arizona Voter ID Ballot Initiative Effort

A coalition of conservative organizations is working with Arizona Republican legislators to put the Arizonans for Voter ID Act on the ballot next fall. The initiative will require voter ID on mail-in ballots, improve existing in-person voter ID requirements, prevent ballot harvesting by enhancing voter ID requirements for in-person ballot drop off, and provide a free voter ID option to lawfully registered Arizona voters who need it for voting. 

Scott Mussi, President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which is spearheading the initiative, said in a statement, “This initiative will ensure that no matter when you vote, where you vote, or how you vote, identification will be required.” The AFEC went on, “Arizonans use these forms of identification commonly in their everyday lives to purchase alcohol or cigarettes, obtain a driver’s license, board a commercial flight, donate blood, open a bank account, purchase a firearm, receive unemployment benefits, obtain auto insurance, purchase or rent a home, confirm identity over the phone, and many other basic transactions.”

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Warren Petersen, Shawnna Bolick Top Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona’s 2021 Scorecard

Warren Petersen and Shawnna Bolick

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona released its 2021 scorecard rating Arizona legislators this session, with just two legislators receiving perfect scores — and one of them actually scored 102 due to bonus points. Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) received an extra two points for his efforts on SCR 1001, a Senate Concurrent Resolution to terminate Governor Doug Ducey’s declaration of emergency on COVID-19. The resolution was highly critical of Ducey, observing that “Governor Ducey has subjected individual citizens to criminal sanctions for noncompliance with the stay-at-home orders.” It did not make it through the legislature.

Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), who is running for Arizona Secretary of State, was the only representative to receive a perfect 100. Rep. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) received the Rookie of the Year award as the highest scoring freshman legislator, with 94. Petersen, Bolick and Parker were among seven legislators to receive perfect scores earlier this month from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club for their voting. 

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Lawsuit Filed Against Referendums That Attempt to Reverse Arizona’s Historic Tax Cuts

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club filed a lawsuit recently against Invest in Arizona over the organization’s attempt to get three referendums on the Arizona ballot that would reverse Arizona’s recently passed tax cuts. The lawsuit contends that since the tax cuts “provide for, and directly relate to, the generation of revenues that are remitted to the general fund and appropriated to various agencies, departments and instrumentalities of the state government,” they cannot be the subject of a referendum and are unconstitutional.

AFEC President Scot Mussi, who is one of the plaintiffs, said, “All three bills directly provide for the support and maintenance of the state, were key aspects of the state’s budget, and therefore are not referable by Invest in Arizona.”

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Seven State Legislators Score 100 Percent in Arizona Free Enterprise Club Rankings

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club gathered in a conference room

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club completed its rankings of how Arizona legislators performed during the 2021 legislative session, and one Senator and six House members scored a perfect 100%. AFEC ranked them based on election integrity, income tax policy, “regulatory relief and ongoing government overreach from the covid-19 pandemic, banning critical race theory in our taxpayer-funded institutions and school choice.”

The seven legislators with a perfect score are Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and Reps. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa), Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert). 

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