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Warner v. White

Supreme Court of Arizona

November 23, 1931

JAMES E. WARNER, Plaintiff, R. L. LINTON, Intervener-Plaintiff, Appellants,
SCOTT WHITE, Sectretary of State of the State of Arizona, Defendant, WM. M. BRAWNER, Intervener, Appellees

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Howard C. Speakman, Judge. Judgment reversed and case remanded, with directions.

Mr. F. C. Struckmeyer, Mr. E. S. Clark, and Mr. Mark B. Thompson, for Appellant Linton.

Mr. K. Berry Peterson, Attorney General, for Appellee Scott White.

Mr. L. M. Laney, for Appellee Wm. M. Brawner.

Mr. W. L. Barnum, Amicus curiae.


Page 1001

[39 Ariz. 205] McALISTER, C. J.

In March of this year the legislature passed an act which is commonly referred to as Senate Bill No. 116 and is carried in the Session Laws of the tenth legislature as chapter 103. It contains fifty-eight sections, the first fourteen of which provide for a survey of all the property of the state for purposes of taxation and the remaining forty-four fix a method for the collection of delinquent taxes. As passed it did not state in a separate section or at all that it was necessary that it become immediately operative, so on May 28, 1931, there were offered to the Secretary of State, Scott White, for filing, petitions containing the names of nearly 10,000 qualified electors of the state ordering that the first fourteen sections of it be referred to the vote of the electors of the state for their rejection or approval at the next general election, and on June 11th thereafter petitions containing the names of 3,000 additional electors were offered, but notwithstanding only 5,000 names were required to invoke the referendum, the Secretary of State, acting upon the advice of the Attorney General that it was doubtful whether the measure was referable, declined to file the petitions until the courts should determine this question.

Thereupon James E. Warner, doing business as the Warner Delivery Service, procured an alternative writ of mandamus directing him to file the petitions or show cause why he had not done so and his response thereto was a demurrer and an answer, the ground of the former being that the petition of the plaintiff did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action for the reason that the act -- the first fourteen sections of chapter 103 -- constitutes a law "for the support and maintenance of the departments of the State Government and State Institutions'' and is, therefore, expressly excepted from the referendum [39 Ariz. 206] by the provisions of subdivision 3, § 1, art. 4, of the state Constitution. The answer raised the same question. Before the demurrer was argued the court granted the motion of Wm. M. Brawner for leave to intervene and he, too, demurred to the petition and answered further. Both demurrers were urged and at the completion of the argument sustained. Judgment was thereupon entered in favor of the defendant and the intervener and in it the court permanently enjoined the Secretary of State from placing the measure on the ballot at the next regular election upon the sole ground, as we gather from the record, that it was not referable. Following this the plaintiff, James E. Warner, gave notice of appeal to this court from the judgment but a few days later withdrew it. Upon this action's being taken by him the application of R. L. Linton to intervene was granted and from then on all proceedings in the case have been in his name as plaintiff-intervener. He immediately gave a second notice of appeal and thereafter performed what other acts were necessary to have the case reviewed by this court.

The only error he assigns is that the court erred in holding that the first fourteen sections of Senate Bill No. 116 are not referable, hence the only question presented by the appeal is the correctness of this ruling.

It is plain from a reading of the act -- and by this we mean the first fourteen sections of Senate Bill 116 -- that its passage was prompted by a legislative desire to provide for a full and complete survey of all the taxable property of the state, as a basis for a just and equitable system of taxation, to the end that the correct value of all taxable property in the state should be ascertained and placed on the tax rolls and the Corporation Commission furnished with the valuations of the holdings of public service and public [39 Ariz. 207] utilities corporations for rate-fixing purposes. To conduct the survey the act creates a special tax survey commission composed of three members to be appointed by the Governor and confers upon it authority to appoint, fix the compensation and prescribe the duties of such experts, engineers, fieldmen, accountants, office assistants, clerks, stenographers and such other employees as may be required, and empowers it to do the things that are necessary to make a full and complete survey of all the property in the state. In order that it might have the funds to enable it to perform these various acts the bill appropriates them in this language:

"Section 8. To carry out the purposes of this act the sum of $250,000 is hereby appropriated out of the general fund, $100,000 to be available when this act becomes effective; $100,000 on the first day of July, 1931, and $50,000 on the first day of July, 1932."

It might be well to state that the ninth legislature had enacted a law, chapter 46, Session Laws 1929, commonly referred to as House Bill 127, to accomplish the same ...

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