August 26, 2008

Ruling keeps roads, land measures off Ariz. ballot

Associated Press

PHOENIX - A state Supreme Court ruling Tuesday means Arizona voters won't be deciding proposed ballot measures on transportation funding and conservation of state trust land.

Election officials who reviewed qualifying petitions for each measure had determined that neither had valid voter signatures.

Supporters went to court to challenge those actions but a trial judge ruled last week that supporters missed a deadline to challenge petition checks by Secretary of State Jan Brewer's office that were part of those reviews. County officials also reviewed signatures on some petitions.

The Supreme Court's order Tuesday upholds the judge's ruling. Paul Eckstein, a lawyer representing supporters of both initiatives, said the high court's action means neither proposal will be on the ballot.

Proposition 203, titled "Transportation Infrastructure Moving Arizona's Economy," or TIME, by supporters, would have raised the state sales tax by a penny to pay for highway and other transportation improvements.

Proposition 103, which was titled "Conserving Arizona's Water and Land," would have set aside more than 500,000 acres of trust land as open space.

Gov. Janet Napolitano has called both measures important steps for the state to handle its continued growth, and spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer reacted to the ruling by called the proposals' failures to make the ballot "a tremendous blow" to the state.

"This is not good news," L'Ecuyer said.

The Supreme Court released its decision in a brief, one-page order signed by Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor. As is typical in last-minute election cases, the Supreme Court's order said the justices will explain their reasoning later.