Arizona voters narrowly approved Proposition 122, a measure to allow the state to opt out of federal laws voters or the state Legislature deem unconstitutional. The measure’s passing is the latest in the round of conservative victories in last Tuesday’s midterm elections when Republicans took control of both houses of Congress. The measure amends Article 2, Section 3 of the Arizona Constitution.
The Yes vote has 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,” Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said. “The state's authority is exercised if the state passes an initiative, referendum, bill, or pursues any other available legal remedy.”
The proposition formally known as the Arizona Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions Amendment, leaves the federal government to fund its own efforts. The measure passed 51 percent to 48 percent. There were 30,000 more yes votes than no votes, according to Ballotpedia. Proponents like Jack Biltis, Yes on 122 campaign chairman, said the amendment was not about political affiliations but “common sense.”
“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,” he said. “This means that not only is Congress making life harder for Arizonans, they're asking us to pay the bill.”
Both chambers of the Arizona Legislature are controlled by Republicans, so the amendment could be implemented.
But opponents called it unconstitutional and a measure that would waste taxpayer money on costly lawsuits. They argued federal laws are necessary for protecting Arizona’s clean water, air and environment, because federal law protects Arizona’s state parks and “pollution does not stop at state borders,” said Jeanne Devine, an environmental activist and opponent of Prop 122.
“We cannot afford to stand by and watch as protection after protection that safeguard our families is weakened or ignored,” said Elna Otter and Don Steuter, who co-chair Arizona’s Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter. “We clearly cannot trust the Arizona Legislature to clean up our air and water or to protect our wildlife or our health as it pursues extreme politics that most citizens do not support.
Read the full text of the proposition and arguments for and against it here.
Five of Arizona’s nine House seats went to Republicans Tuesday and Tea Party candidate Doug Ducey won the state’s gubernatorial race against Democrat Fred DuVal. Neither of the two Republican senators in the conservative stronghold was up for re-election. Republican Diane Douglas won the race for superintendent of public instruction. She vowed to throw out the national Common Core teaching standards, which critics say devalue the humanities and don’t take into account the needs of individual states.