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Brewer signs bill authorizing volunteer state militia

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Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill creating a state militia that she could deploy at any time, and for any reason.

The bill, SB1495, creates a volunteer state militia, separate and apart from the National Guard.

Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, who sponsored a near identical House bill, said this type of legislation couldn’t have come at a better time.

Harper, who has previously said the governor would not be required to establish a state militia and who called the new state guard a “safety net” for the governor, said he thinks Gov. Brewer should call a militia to action right away.

“I’m very excited that she signed it, of course,” he said. “With the national funding for the National Guard on the border expiring in June, I would like to see the governor sign an executive order that immediately establishes the guard.”

Harper said he consulted several times with Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the Arizona National Guard’s adjutant general, about how he would be able to utilize a volunteer militia if it were to be established and deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border. He called those conversations encouraging.

The new state militia does not have a command structure defined, and Harper said the governor could put anyone in charge of the group.

“That’s not spelled out in the legislation,” Harper said.

Aside from potentially being deployed to the border, Harper said the new state guard could be used in the case of nuclear, biological or chemical attacks, or if there were a radiological leak at a nuclear power plant.

“Decontamination is vital in that scenario,” Harper said. “And the volunteer force could augment first responders in that case.”

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