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President Fann Calls on Secretary Hobbs to End Unnecessary, Unjustified Hold on School Choice Law

President Fann Calls on Secretary Hobbs to End Unnecessary, Unjustified Hold on School Choice Law


Karen Fann

Senate President

1700 West Washington, Senate

Phoenix, AZ 85007-2844

Phone: 602-926-5874

kfann@azleg.gov


Arizona State Senate

September 28, 2022

The Honorable Katie Hobbs

Secretary of State

1700 West Washington, 7th Floor

Phoenix, AZ 85007-2844


Re: HB 2853: Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts


Dear Secretary Hobbs,


Based on numerous credible media reports and observers, it's our understanding that the referendum attempt on HB 2853 did not receive the required number of signatures needed to make it on to the ballot. Your office is undoubtedly already aware of this fact, based on the same reports and observations, but additionally, because your office has procured and relies on signature-review software to automate petition signature counting.


HB 2853 was set to take effect on Saturday, September 24, 2022, however, this law has been put on hold while signature verification is conducted. Indeed, if the referendum proponents had accurately stated that they had not reached the signature threshold needed at the time of filing, your office would have been obligated to immediately disqualify the referendum from the ballot. See Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, 2022 Initiative and Referendum Guide at 12 (requiring the Secretary of State to “reject entire filing” if “[a]t the time of filing, the purported # of signatures is lower than the constitutional requirement”), available at https://azsos.gov/sites/default/files/2022_initiative_and_referendum_guide.pdf. But, based on the referendum proponents’ incorrect and inflated reporting, the effective date of a duly enacted law of this state has been suspended, pending review by your office.


We recognize statute allows you up to 20 business days to verify signatures, but we are asking that you expedite this process. Because your office is already in possession of compelling evidence of the insufficiency of the referendum petition, anything less than an immediate rejection of the petition will make your office complicit in the referendum proponents’ misreporting and interference with the duly enacted laws of this state.


In order for families to qualify for Quarter 1 Universal ESA funding this school year, they must apply by Friday, September 30. If families don't meet this deadline, they will forgo Quarter 1 funding. However, according to the Arizona Department of Education website, all new applicants for Universal ESAs under HB 2853 are on hold at this time. This lack of clarity on the law is creating confusion for those wanting to take part in the program. Your office has the ability to end the uncertainty, based on the information already in your possession. Further delay is unjustified and unnecessary.


Please act promptly on behalf of the thousands of Arizona families that are counting on this funding for their children's education. As our country enters into a recession, we know that every dollar is valuable to lives and livelihoods.


Sincerely,



Karen Fann

President,

Arizona State Senate

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