Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, et al., Petitioners/Appellants,
City of Phoenix, et al., Respondents/Appellees, Building a Better Phoenix, a Political Committee, Real Party in Interest/Appellee.
from the Superior Court in Maricopa County The Honorable
Sherry K. Stephens, Judge No. CV2019-000604
Decision of the Court of Appeals, Division One 1 CA-CV19-0257
EL Filed June 6, 2019
Herrera, Mark S. Kokanovich, Daniel A. Arellano, Ballard
Spahr LLP, Phoenix, Attorneys for Arizona Chapter of the
Associated General Contractors of America, et al.
Langhofer, Thomas Basile, Statecraft PLLC, Phoenix, Attorneys
for Building a Better Phoenix
JUSTICE TIMMER authored the opinion of the Court, in which
CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, JUSTICE BOLICK, and JUSTICE GOULD
At issue here is whether the "Building a Better Phoenix
Act" initiative measure qualifies for placement on the
City of Phoenix's August 2019 special election ballot. We
must decide whether petition signatures are void pursuant to
A.R.S. § 19-118.01(A) because the measure's
proponent paid petition circulators by the signature and
whether the measure's 100-word description fails to
comply with A.R.S. § 19-102(A). We previously issued an
order affirming the lower courts' decisions that the
initiative measure qualifies for the ballot. We now explain
Light rail in Phoenix is funded from many sources, including
rider fares, advertising proceeds, and regional and federal
funds. Before 2015, Phoenix imposed a transaction
privilege and use tax to further fund the city's
transportation network, which included light rail. In 2015,
voters passed Proposition 104, which set that tax at 0.7%
until 2051 and created a Citizens Transportation Committee to
review all tax revenue expenditures. See Phx. City
Clerk, August 25, 2015 Sample Ballot: Mayor and Council
Proposition 104 authorized use of the tax revenues, among
other things, to "[e]xpand light rail... to serve more
Phoenix neighborhoods and employment, education and
entertainment centers" as depicted on an included map.
Id. Proposition 104 did not authorize use of these
funds for light rail maintenance and repair. See id.
Building a Better Phoenix ("BBP"), a political
action committee, sought to amend the Phoenix City Charter to
discontinue "light rail extensions" and redirect
local sales tax funding for light rail extensions to
"infrastructure improvements." To do so, BBP filed
an application in September 2018 with the City Clerk of the
City of Phoenix, see A.R.S. § 19-143(B),
seeking placement of the "Building a Better Phoenix
Act" initiative measure (the "Initiative") on
the August 2019 special election ballot. Upon receipt of the
application, the City Clerk's office assigned the
Initiative petition a serial number, see A.R.S.
§ 19-lll(B), which enabled BBP to gather the number of
valid signatures required to qualify the Initiative for the
ballot. To that end, BBP hired a commercial petition
circulation firm, which paid circulators on a per-signature
Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of
America and David Martin (collectively,
"Contractors") filed a complaint pursuant to A.R.S.
§ 19-122(C) seeking to enjoin placement of the
Initiative on the ballot. They allege that petition
circulators were paid by the signature in violation of §
19-118.01 and that the 100-word summary circulated with the
petition created a significant danger of confusion or
unfairness in violation of § 19-102(A). The superior
court denied relief, and the court of appeals affirmed.
Ariz. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors of Am.
v. City of Phoenix, No. 1 CA-CV 19-0257 EL, 2019 WL
2399703, at *1 ¶ 3, *6 ¶ 25 (Ariz. App. June 6,
2019) (mem. decision).
On expedited review, we affirmed the superior court's
judgment in an order filed June 12, 2019 (again, with an
opinion to follow). We have jurisdiction over this matter
under article 6, section 5 of the Arizona Constitution.