Humane Voters of Arizona (“HVA”) is sad to report that the Arizonans for Wildlife (“AFW”) citizen initiative campaign to ban trophy hunting of Arizona’s wild cats has been suspended. While HVA was not involved in the decision to suspend the campaign, we know that many HVA supporters volunteered with the AWF campaign, and your support is greatly appreciated.

HVA appreciates the efforts of AFW’s Director Kellye Pinkleton and her amazing team, along with all the AFW volunteers who worked tirelessly on the ballot measure.

Unfortunately, the suspension of the AFW campaign is the result of Arizona Legislature’s unrelenting attack on the citizen initiative process in the state. The Legislature may have finally succeeded in its goal of making the citizens’ initiative process so cumbersome and expensive that local grassroots groups can no longer afford to place measures on the ballot. Through its actions last session, the Legislature has severely restricted one of the most important tools for protecting animals. The Legislature’s passage of the strict compliance bill has made ballot initiatives even more difficult, time consuming and expensive. These unreasonably burdensome requirements proved insurmountable for the wild cat hunting initiative, a grassroots campaign relying largely on volunteers.

In 2017, the AZ Legislature passed HB 2244, which HVA and other groups strongly opposed. The bill changed the state’s standard of ‘substantial compliance’ for initiatives to ‘strict compliance’, which could cause many perfectly valid signatures to be tossed out for even the smallest technical issue, such as using the wrong margin size. Following the session a lawsuit was filed to invalidate HB 2244 on Arizona Constitutional grounds. We recently attended a hearing on the lawsuit at the Arizona Court of Appeals, and will continue to provide updates on this case. Click here to learn more about HB 2244 and how your legislators voted.

Arizona lawmakers’ appalling decimation of our citizen initiative process reinforces the fact that so many of our legislators are out of touch with their constituents. Arizonans overwhelmingly support animal protection, and voters would most likely approve the initiative if placed on the ballot. Since 1994, voters have supported every citizen initiative to protect animals and have rejected every legislative referendum to hurt animals.

Arizona animals need your help! In 2018 we have the opportunity to change the climate of the Arizona Legislature in the upcoming primary and general elections. Please help HVA make our state a better place by working with us to help support candidates who believe in necessary animal protections. You can sign up to volunteer on the HVA website. Remember that in many races in Arizona the winner is effectively decided in the primary election, so sign up today!

For more information about the lawsuit concerning HB 2244, Madonna, et al v. State, et al, click here.

HVA is an all-volunteer, non-partisan organization that supports candidates who care about animals and animal protection.

Mountain lion photo courtesy of Arizonans for Wildlife

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