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Public Lands:
state sovereignty

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: HCR2004
Sponsor: Crandell, Barton: Allen
Legislative Session: 2012 Legislative Session

HCR2004 state sovereignty (Crandell, Barton: Allen) refers to the ballot a constitutional amendment asserting state sovereignty and establishing that the state has exclusive authority and jurisdiction over air, water , public lands, minerals, wildlife, and other natural resources in the state. The intent appears to be to undermine protections provided by federal laws, such as the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and Clean Water Act, and to take control of many of our federal public lands.  While we have no doubt that the voters of Arizona would reject this, referring it to the ballot is just a bad idea and sends a terrible message.

Status

This will appear on the November 2012 General Election ballot. Crazy!

Action Needed

 

More information

To read the text of the bill, click on HCR2004.

To see how your senator voted, click on HCR2004 Senate Vote.

To see how your representatives voted, click on HCR2004 House Vote.

Background

The state cannot even properly fund and care for its state park system or fund the State Land Department to manage state trust lands, so how would it take control of and even consider managing federal public lands? The state has cut the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to the bone, so it is more of a permitting agency rather than environmental protection agency and without the federal Clean Air Act and the funding it provides, this agency would do even less and we would be plagued with even poorer air quality. The same is true for water quality issues. The state also gets wildlife funding from the federal government for work on endangered species and other wildlife. Without these laws and the associated funding, we would see more species disappear from our state.

Regarding our public lands, these lands do not belong to the legislature, a majority of legislators, or only to the people of Arizona. These parks, forests, monuments, and more, are public lands that belong to all Americans. Trying to assert control of them would be stealing from the American people and future generations.

Furthermore, this bill is clearly unconstitutional and is contrary to our state’s enabling act, which states:

“That the people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated and ungranted public lands lying within the boundaries thereof and to all lands lying within said boundaries owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes, the right or title to which shall have been acquired through or from the United States or any prior sovereignty, and that until the title of such Indian or Indian tribes shall have been extinguished the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition and under the absolute jurisdiction and control of the Congress of the United States . . . .”

Act June 20, 1910, c. 310, 36 U.S.Stat. 557, 568— 579

That seems pretty clear – “forever disclaim all right and title.”

Finally, these lands are also supported strongly by the public throughout the west and in Arizona. A 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll, completed in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming by Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), found that voters across the west and 9 in 10 Arizona voters agreed that public lands such as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are “an essential part” of the economies of these states, and the quality of life of residents.  Four in five western voters view having a strong economy and protecting land and water as compatible.

 

     
     

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