Arizona State Sovereignty Amendment, Proposition 122 (2014)
|Referred by:||Arizona State Legislature|
|Topic:||Federal constitutional issues|
|Status:||On the ballot|
- 1 Text of measure
- 2 Background
- 3 Support
- 4 Opposition
- 5 Path to the ballot
- 6 Similar measures
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 Additional reading
- 10 References
Text of measure
The short title for Proposition 122 reads as:
|“||Rejection Of Unconstitutional Federal Actions
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; AMENDING ARTICLE II, SECTION 3, CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; RELATING TO THE REJECTION OF UNCONSTITUTIONAL FEDERAL ACTIONS.
AZ sovereignty measures
Proposition 122 is not the first attempt to address state sovereignty issues through ballot measures in Arizona. One proposed initiative in 2012 was very similar to Proposition 122. That initiated constitutional amendment would have allowed voters to reject federal actions with veto referendums. That measure was not certified for the ballot, but a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment was placed on the ballot in 2012 regarding state sovereignty and natural resources. It would have declared state sovereignty over the state's natural resources, including land, air, water, minerals and wildlife. The measure was defeated in the November 6, 2012 election.
Supporters of this 2014 measure have used several case examples to demonstrate what they believe to be instances of federally mandated unconstitutional actions. The following subsections provide some background context for those arguments. To read what supporters have to say about these issues in light of Proposition 122, see the support arguments subsection.
Child Protective Services
Ongoing problems with Child Protective Services have been pointed to by supporters of Proposition 122 as a reason the measure is necessary. The agency was abolished by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in January 2014 following a series of scandals involving a backlog of over 6,000 cases from the state's hotline. It was replaced with a new agency called the Department of Child Safety. According to the new agency's website, information protected by state or federal laws cannot be released by the agency, even in cases of deaths. "This may include: information regarding the source of a CPS report, information related to the privacy and dignity of crime victims (Arizona Constitution), criminal history information obtained from the Department of Public Safety, medical records protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and educational records protected under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act."
ABC15 Arizona, "Arizona Child Protective Services," January 10, 2014
Affordable Care Act
Supporters of the proposition have also argued that the loss of insurance plans caused by the Affordable Care Act demonstrates the need for the proposition. Despite early assurances that the act would allow people to keep their private insurance plans if they wanted, plan cancellations did occur due to the ten essential benefits for coverage required by the act.
Tombstone water issue
Another case pointed to by supporters of Proposition 122 in their arguments is the water issue in Tombstone, Arizona following 2011 forest fires and flooding. The water line that had been supplying the city was damaged in the course of events. While the city worked to repair the water line, they had to comply with the 1964 Wilderness Act, as part of the line runs through Coronado National Forest. These regulation include that digging must be done with shovels instead of bulldozers and new pipe had to come up the mountain on horses instead of trucks. The conflict between the city and federal regulations increased and led to the city suing the federal government over the issue. The Goldwater Institute took on the city's representation in court. The city claimed ownership of 25 springs in the Huachuca Mountains, while the Forest Service claimed that the city only holds permits for 5 springs. Both sides have accused the other of exploiting the natural disasters of 2011 to promote or hinder the water project. The reemergence of an endangered species, the Mexican spotted owl, following the forest fires was raised as possible reason for delaying work on the water line. However, Forest Service officials later said that owls' presence would have no effect on the permitting time line for the water project.
CNN, "Tombstone's water showdown," June 9, 2012
The following timeline of the court case was provided on the Goldwater Institute's website:
December 28, 2011: Tombstone files lawsuit in U.S. District Court against U.S. Forest Service
- Sen. Chester Crandell (R-6), primary sponsor
- Sen. Judy Burges (R-22), primary sponsor
- Sen. Al Melvin (R-11), cosponsor
- Rep. Brenda Barton (R-6), cosponsor
- U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-6)
- U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-8)
- U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-5)
- Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County
- Yes for Common Sense
- Tenth Amendment Center
- Clint Bolick, Vice President for Litigation, Goldwater Institute
- Jack Biltis, President, TAG Employer Services and sponsor of similar 2012 measure
- Joe Wolverton, II, correspondent for The New American
Yes for Common Sense argues that while the state is required to comply with federal rules, they should not have to pay for "ill-conceived" legislation. They also provide the following three examples of specific ways Proposition 122 would affect Arizona's interaction with federal laws.
Child Protective Serivces
|“||You've seen the headlines: Children abused. Children neglected. Children killed by their own parents. CPS, the agency charged with protecting abused kids, often fails to investigate [...] The lawyers for CPS say that federal law prevents them from releasing this information. That's right, a federal law originally designed to protect kids is actually being used to protect the wrongdoing of bureaucrats instead. [...] Prop 122 forces Child Protective Services to be more transparent when children are harmed. Bureaucrats would be forced to give up documents that could shed light on where they made mistakes and more importantly give us insight into how we can prevent children from dying in the future.||”|
—Yes for Common Sense, 
|“||[We] can all agree Arizonans should not lose doctors and insurance plans they want to keep. The good news is doctors and small businesses are innovating with free market solutions like "direct primary care" and "partially self-insured plans" to support their patients and employees.
Unfortunately, the federal government and anti-free market groups are looking to further limit our choices [...] Worst of all, they are trying to use the states to implement many of these restrictions. Some states have already succumbed to these pressures.
Prop 122 will allow us to prevent the federal government from making side deals with state bureaucrats restricting the choices of patients and businesses.
—Yes for Common Sense, 
Land and water
|“||[The] legendary Town of Tombstone, ravaged by floods and forest fires, was unable to repair damaged water lines that could prevent another devastating fire. The Federal government, citing concerns about the Mexican Spotted Owl, tried to block Tombstone from making repairs to damaged water lines that were desperately needed by the local fire department. [...] For over 132 years the Town of Tombstone has used this water and has a claim to the land that even predates Arizona becoming a state. Tombstone has survived gamblers, rustlers and shootouts but might not survive a stupid law in Washington D.C.
Is the State of Arizona obligated to help the Federal Government enforce a law that puts lives in danger?
If Prop 122 passes Arizona can stop helping the Federal Government from taking land and water away from the communities that need it.
—Yes for Common Sense, 
The Tenth Amendment Center defended Proposition 122, saying,
|“||Opponents will inevitably argue that “federal law is supreme” (ignoring the words “in pursuance of” in the supremacy clause) and claim that Arizona has no authority to reject federal law. But even the Supreme Court agrees that states do not have to enforce federal acts – constitutional or otherwise.||”|
—Tenth Amendment Center, 
Yes for Common Sense registered with the secretary of state's campaign finance office as supporting Proposition 122 on November 18, 2013. The following totals are accurate as of the June 30, 2014, campaign finance report. At that time, the campaign only had one donor: Jack Charles Biltis. Biltis had given $75,075.00 to the campaign at that point.
|PAC||Amount raised||Amount spent|
|Yes for Common Sense||$75,075.00||$50,000.00|
According to the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter, Proposition 122 "would have an extremely negative impact on protection of natural resources, especially relative to the Legislature's role." They further argue,
|“||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.
Path to the ballot
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According to Article 21 of the Arizona Constitution, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment can go to the ballot if a majority of members in both the Senate and House approve it. After approval from the legislature, the proposed amendment goes on a statewide ballot for a popular vote of the people where, if approved by a simple majority, it becomes part of the constitution. On May 14, 2013, the House approved the measure with a vote of 36 to 23. Previously, on March 4, 2013, the Senate passed it 16 to 12.
March 4, 2013 Senate vote
|Arizona SCR 1016 Senate vote|
May 14, 2013 House vote
|Arizona SCR 1016 House vote|
- Ohio State Sovereignty, Constitutional Power and Legally Binds Oaths Amendment (2014)
- Arizona Declaration of State Sovereignty Amendment, Proposition 120 (2012)
- Arizona Federal Action Rejection Initiative (2012)
- Missouri State Sovereignty Amendment (2010)
- Arizona 2014 ballot measures
- 2014 ballot measures
- List of Arizona ballot measures
- Arizona Legislature
- SCR 1016
- Yes for Common Sense campaign website, Facebook profile and Twitter feed
- Sierra Club-Grand Canyon Chapter website
- Arizona Capital Times, "State sovereignty bill would strengthen ‘checks and balances’ system," March 7, 2013
- Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, "8.1 enforcing federal rights against states and state officials," 2013
- Arizona State Legislature, "SCR 1016," accessed February 7, 2014
- KJZZ.org, "Arizona voters to decide state sovereignty measure in 2014," May 14, 2013
- OpenStates.org, "SCR 1016: Arizona Senate Concurrent Resolution - Rejection of unconstitutional federal actions," accessed May 24, 2013
- Arizona Secretary of State, "2014 General Election Ballot Measures," accessed July 1, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- The Daily Banter, "Why Arizona Abolished Child Protective Services," January 17, 2014
- Arizona Department of Economic Security: Department of Child Safety, "Department of Child Safety (DCS) Frequently Asked Questions," accessed July 1, 2014
- The Washington Post, "This is why Obamacare is canceling some people’s insurance plans," October 29, 2013
- CNN, "Showdown at the H2O Corral," May 10, 2012
- CNN, "Spotted owl could be game-changer in Tombstone water war," June 9, 2012
- Cronkite News, "Officials say spotted owl doesn’t matter one hoot in Tombstone water feud," June 11, 2014
- Goldwater Institute, "Tombstone v. United States," February 17, 2012
- Tenth Amendment Center, "Arizona Voters Get Opportunity To Consider State Sovereignty Amendment In November 2014," May 15, 2013
- The New American, "Arizona Prop 122 Restores State Power to Reject Federal Mandates," July 11, 2014
- Yes on 122, "Why Yes on 122," accessed July 1, 2014
- Yes on 122, "Protect our children," accessed July 1, 2014
- Yes on 122, "Protect our healthcare," accessed July 1, 2014
- Yes on 122, "Protect our property," accessed July 1, 2014
- Arizona Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance - Filer Details: Yes for Common Sense," accessed July 1, 2014
- Arizona Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance Report, Yes for Common Sense," June 30, 2014
- Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Chapter, "Legislative Tracker: rejection of unconstitutional federal actions," accessed July 1, 2014
State of Arizona
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