Paul Jacob

This November, voters in four states will see ballot measures seeking to place a right to hunt and fish into their constitutions. In three of those states, the issues are likely to pass quite comfortably, but not in Arizona.

I hope.

In the finest American tradition of outside agitators, I’m traveling to Arizona this week to campaign against Proposition 109.

A friend in the state surprisingly inquired, “You have a dog in that fight?”

I do. More importantly, Citizens in Charge does. That’s my day job (and night job . . . and weekend job), rallying Americans to protect our right to initiative, referendum and recall.

Personally, I favor a right to hunt and fish as long as property rights are respected.

But my personal opinion doesn’t matter to Citizens in Charge, the nation’s only political advocacy organization dedicated to protecting citizen access to initiative, referendum and recall. No matter what the particular policy issue, Citizens in Charge focuses in on the right of voters to decide, not the measures themselves. So, we take no position on ballot measures except when they directly affect the voter-empowering political processes we cherish.

So why is Citizens in Charge joining the NO on Prop 109 campaign?

Because the only concrete change in policy regarding hunting and fishing that Arizona’s Proposition 109 will accomplish is ceding to the state legislature “exclusive authority” over all wildlife matters, completely removing the issue from citizens through the state’s initiative and referendum process.

In this political season, when an awake and justifiably angry electorate surveys their choices at the ballot box, Proposition 109 can best be summed up as a power grab by politicians. The Push the People Out Proposition.

The Arizona Constitution’s initial grant of legislative authority to the House and Senate is followed by these words: “but the people reserve the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject such laws and amendments at the polls, independently of the legislature, and they also reserve, for use at their own option, the power to approve or reject at the polls any act, or item, section, or part of any act, of the legislature.”

Proposition 109 says forget about all those silly checks and balances.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.