Yesterday, while at the PCRC (Pinal County Republican Club), a guest speaker named Jack Biltis, spoke about a proposition that was going to be on the ballot this November. It's called Prop 122. Have to say I was a bit surprised as I hadn't heard anything about any propositions on the ballot this year, and since I hadn't had a chance to do my research on the Prop, it was all new to me, and I was intrigued.
So what is Prop 122?
Prop 122 is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, that would amend Article 2, Section 3 of the Arizona Constitution. The measure was primarily sponsored in the Arizona State Legislature by Sen. Chester Crandell (R-6) and Sen. Judy Burges (R-22).
What will you see on ballot?
PERMITS THE STATE TO EXERCISE ITS SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY BY RESTRICTING STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES TO PURPOSES THAT ARE CONSISTENT WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
A "yes" vote shall have the effect of allowing the state to restrict the state and all local governments from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with a federal action or program that is not consistent with the Constitution of the United States. The state's authority is exercised if the state passes an initiative, referendum, bill, or pursues any other available legal remedy.
A "no" vote shall have the effect of retaining the current law relating to state and local governments and the Constitution of the United States.
What is Prop 122 trying to do?
Prop 122 is an attempt to address state sovereignty issues through ballot measures in Arizona by restoring state power to reject federal mandates. If approved, it would create a mechanism by which state personnel and financial resources could only be used for purposes that are deemed congruent with the federal constitution by the state.
According to a website in support of the measure, "This constitutional amendment provides a mechanism for the state to recognize a specific federal regulation or law to be an overreach of federal powers. This could be initiated by a 1) ballot measure or 2) vote of the legislature and governor. Upon this determination, the state would withhold state financial resources and personnel from enforcement of such federal action. The federal government would be free to enforce the action with its own personnel (and money) and the state may still pursue relief from the court system.
Any use of this process is limited to areas that comply with the US and Arizona Constitutions (e.g. Arizona could not prevent the national guard from being federalized and could not withhold resources needed to support Brown vs. Board of Education)."
The Tenth Amendment Center wrote “If passed, the state constitutional amendment would make the feds enforce, enact and pay for its unconstitutional actions and programs on their own.”
Supporters on the Yes on 122 website claim, “Politicians in Washington are fond of passing far-reaching laws, but more often than not they depend on state and local governments — and state and local taxpayers — to implement them. This means that not only is Congress making life harder for Arizonans, they’re asking us to pay the bill. That’s why a bipartisan majority of the Arizona Legislature came together to pass Prop 122.”
With the few people I've spoken to about this, the one bit of information that seems to be a concern is that this measure would grant to the Arizona legislature the right to reject federal programs. That is not the case. What this measure is meant to do is to prevent the federal government from requiring Arizona to use state funds or personnel for federal programs. The feds would still be able to enforce and implement the program they would just need to use federal funds to do it.
I have scoured the internet looking for anyone against the measure and all I've been able to find is a comment by the Sierra Club that reads:
"The Arizona Legislature has a very poor record of determining what is constitutional or what is good for our state’s natural resources, yet we are supposed to leave it up to the Legislature to decide whether or not our state will abide by the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, or the Endangered Species Act?
Americans have a long history of supporting laws to protect natural resources. We no longer have rivers catching on fire and air pollutants from smokestacks and automobiles have been reduced significantly. Many species of plants and animals have been brought back from the brink of extinction. SCR1016 says the Arizona Legislature can reject these laws and their enforcement in Arizona. Where would the Mexican gray wolf, the California condor, or the black-footed ferret be without the Endangered Species Act? How bad would the air quality be in Phoenix without the Clean Air Act? What would the water quality be on the Colorado River without the Clean Water Act? We still have work to do in all these areas, but without these important federal laws, we would have dirtier air, more polluted waters, and less diversity of animals and plants."
So I thought I would share what I know about the proposition and open up discussion. What do you think about Prop 122? Will you vote YES or NO on November 4, 2014?
As for my 2 cents? While I don't have much confidence that our legislature listens to the people vs the pocketbook, and have even less faith that our legislature is a "representative republic", this measure to me is really more about money. While the measure does not give authority to the state to just reject federal programs that are deemed to be unconstitutional, it does allow the state to require the federal programs to be funded by federal dollars. That to me is common sense.
Additional Propositions on the ballot in November are:
- Proposition 303: Use of Investigational Drugs, Biomedical Products and Devices: which would allow terminally ill patients in Arizona to procure experimental drugs that have not completed the full FDA trial process (but have been deemed safe by FDA).
- Proposition 304: Legislative Salaries: which would result in a salary increase from $24,000 to $35,000 a year for Arizona state legislators.