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Arizona Senate approves states’ rights measures

Carrying on its defiant stance, Arizona senators on Thursday approved bills that push back against the federal health care overhaul and seek to wrestle control over commerce that takes place solely within state boundaries.
 
The bills are among a slew of measures that backers say shows the state’s frustration with federal overreaching.
 
But critics called the measures unworkable, unenforceable and pre-empted by federal law, and said the courts already have ruled that the federal government can regulate areas that may not, on their face, deal with products that cross state boundaries.
 
They added that the proper arena for a challenge to federal laws is the court, not the Legislature.
 
Even the bill’s primary author can’t say exactly how the measure that deals with intrastate commerce would be enforced.
 
By a vote of 21-8, the Senate approved SB1178, which declares that all goods that are made, grown, or manufactured in Arizona and don’t cross state lines are not subject to Congressional authority to regulate commerce among states.
 
The Senate also passed SB1214, which will enter Arizona into a compact with other states that have also enacted laws saying residents can’t be penalized for participating, or not, in any health care plan.
 
The move that stems directly from last year’s passage of the federal health care overhaul.  
 
SB1214 was approved mostly along party lines, 20-9.
 
What sets SB1178, the intrastate commerce measure, apart is it goes after public employees who enforce federal regulations here in violation of its provisions. If the bill becomes law, federal agents will face a Class 6 felony and a fine that may not exceed $2,000, while state employees will face a Class 1 misdemeanor, and a fine of up $500.
 
Snowflake Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen, the author of both bills, said the Commerce Clause has been “misinterpreted,” and what SB1178’s backers are attempting is to go back to its “original intent,” which she argued limits federal regulation to trade that occurs among states.
 
As an example of federal overreach, Allen pointed to the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which expanded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authority over production and gives the agency the power to order a recall of food products. With the exemption of its authority over infant formula, the FDA previously could only make a request and rely on manufacturers and distributors to recall food voluntarily.
The new law also requires food manufacturers to come up with a plan that spells out ways whereby food can be contaminated and outlines steps to prevent that from happening.
Allen said her constituents were very alarmed “because it was going to regulate food so severely.”
 
She reiterated that her bill concerns products that are sold at a farmers market and never leave the state.
 
The bill’s penalties and fines show that the state is serious, Allen said, adding, “This is going to open up a dialogue. This is going to open up this debate of interstate commerce.”
 
But when pressed by reporters, Allen couldn’t explain how exactly the legislation would be implemented. Instead, she said, “All of the bills that a lot of us are doing are a result of the frustration that we feel that we no longer as a state are able to control what’s going in our state.”
 
Given its sweeping scope, it’s unclear how the bill can be implemented. SB1178 won’t only affect light bulbs or firearms, which are perennial hot-button issues for states rightists, but “all” goods grown, manufactured and sold here.
 
In addition, the presumptive sentence for a Class 6 felony is one year in prison. This means if enforced, employees who are carrying out their federal duties face prison time.  
 
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, called the bill and similar legislation “fictional.”
 
“What bothers me about this legislation is none of it is real,” Sinema said. “None of it is enforceable.”
 
Sinema said the proper venue to challenge federal law or regulation is the court.
 
Otherwise, Sinema said the bill’s backers should “run for Congress” and push for changes there.
 
“It is based on a faulty premise. The idea that you can evade all federal rules, requirements and oversight simply because you plan to manufacture or grow and sell and consume something entirely in the state of Arizona has already been ruled by federal courts as to not allow you exemption from federal regulations,” she said.

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