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Business groups oppose Arizona ballot measures

The rotunda in the Arizona State Capitol building.

(The Center Square) – Two measures that could appear on Arizona’s ballot this fall are being challenged by two groups who say the descriptions that would be presented to voters are inaccurate and misleading.

“The proponents of this harmful initiative are attempting to pull a fast one on Arizona voters,” Glen Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Center Square. “They’ve twisted themselves in pretzel knots to avoid telling voters exactly what their initiative does and exactly who’s behind it.”

Opponents of the Stop Surprise Billing and Protect Patients Act, including state Sen. Vince Leach, filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court, arguing that the proponents of an initiative, backed by an out-of-state California labor union, failed to comply with Arizona law in its signature-gathering and committee-filing process.

The measure, if approved by voters, would require that private hospital workers’ pay to be increased by 5 percent immediately, and an additional 5 percent on Jan. 1 each of the next three years.

The pay raise language is lumped in with measures to address surprise medical billings, insurance guarantees for individuals with preexisting conditions, and new standards for private hospitals.

Opponents argue the initiative’s description does not clearly state the impact it will have on health care workers or patients. In reality, the Arizona Chamber said, the initiative imposes “sweeping new mandates on Arizona’s health care sector. The Arizona Chamber supports the arguments contained in the complaint and believes that the initiative should not appear on the November ballot.”

“I am confident that this measure, which would devastate the Arizona health care sector during a pandemic that has stretched our health care heroes to the near breaking point, will not appear on the ballot this fall,” Hamer told The Center Square.

Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy, also supported by the Arizona Chamber, has also filed suit, arguing that the description for the Invest in Education Act is misleading and doesn’t reveal the true scope of a proposed tax increase.

“Marketing their plan as a ‘surcharge’ attempts to withhold from voters the real impact of their scheme,” Jaime Molera, chairman of Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy, said according to Chamber Business News. “If the proponents got their way, the top marginal tax rate would jump to 8%, nearly double the current top rate.”

Molera argues that the Supreme Court previously ruled that a petition’s 100-word description cannot be confusing and principles described must be clearly explained.

Molera and others said that this tax increase would be a blow to small businesses.

“If signers would have known that the backbone of the Arizona economy gets clobbered by this proposal, then they might have thought twice before signing,” Molera said according to Chamber Business News.

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