During a debate on Thursday afternoon, when Republicans gave preliminary approval to a measure that creates a committee whose task is to recommend the nullification of federal laws, Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, drew up an amendment to also allow her county, Pima, to “secede” from Arizona.
“This was a tongue-in-cheek (move),” Aboud said. “We really want this Legislature to stop embarrassing the rest of Arizona.”
In a statement later, Aboud said this was Democrats’ way of trying to separate from the “fringe element” in the Legislature.
Pima County, in the Southern part of the state, is home to Arizona’s second largest city, Tucson. The county, which has more than 1 million residents, borders with Mexico.
Aboud’s amendment isn’t the first “tongue-in-cheek” legislation Democrats offered.
The day before, Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, asked colleagues to change a bill — whose aim is to allow Arizona to enter into a interstate compact to build and maintain a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border on private property if the landowner consents — to say the governor may not start planning for the construction or begin building until $1.5 billion has been raised through private donations.
The amendment is meant to satirize SB1406, which allows Arizona to develop a mechanism to raise money through private donations for the construction and the maintenance of the border fence. The bill also says the interstate compact must require states to use inmate labor and private contractors for the fence’s construction and maintenance.
Gallardo’s amendment is meant to highlight a point: That it’s unlikely enough money can be raised through private funds to not only build but also maintain a border fence.
The Democratic amendments, as expected, failed.
But the humor, at least, has kept him “awake,” Gallardo said.
“You look at the type of bills. Giving the state the ability to eminent domain federal land? It’s ridiculous,” Gallardo said, referring to another states’ rights measure.
At the top of the Democrats’ complaint is a slew of measures that seeks to defy — or at least send a message of defiance — to the federal government in many areas, including immigration, commerce and the management of endangered species.
Democrats said such bills distract the Legislature from more pressing issues, such as fixing the state budget and aiding the economy, and show that Republicans have a distorted set of priorities. The measures are ultimately futile, they added, arguing the courts will strike them as illegal.
But Republicans countered that the measures are necessary to check federal abuse of authority, which they say has become pervasive. They said federal regulations are costly, and states are better stewards of resources.
Something is wrong with the picture, they argued, when the federal government can regulate what people grow in their backyards, including produce that may end up at a farmers market but never actually cross state lines.
These measures are their way of protesting against federal overreach, they said.