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Senate advancing measure to nullify federal laws

A handful of senators has revived a proposal to allow Arizona to ignore federal laws, setting up more potential showdowns between the state and the Obama administration.

The bill, which already received approval in two committees, creates a legislative panel that would propose to “neutralize” federal laws and regulations it deems to be outside the scope of the U.S. Constitution.

The proposal also gives the panel the authority to review current federal laws and executive orders, and to also propose their “neutralization” to the Legislature.

Lawmakers are then required to vote on the panel’s recommendation within 60 days of receiving it.

Under the proposal, a law that’s being recommended for neutralization would have “no effect in this state” until the Legislature has had the chance to vote on it.

“Neutralization” isn’t defined in the measure, which is sponsored by Sen. Lori Klein, a Republican from Anthem.

But once the federal law is “neutralized,” Arizona and its citizens would no longer be obligated to follow it.

The bill cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee by an 8-5 vote Tuesday. The Senate Border Security, Federalism and States Sovereignty Committee approved it earlier this month.

Critics like Sen. Linda Lopez, a Democrat from Tucson, said it’s one of those proposals that will wind up in court. The problem, she said, is there’s no money set aside for the legal costs of defending it.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, is skeptical about how the committee would work.

“This bill tremendously oversimplifies how difficult the process is (of reviewing federal laws),” Crandall said of his “no” vote. “And (it) has zero funding for it to staff this.”

But Sen. Lori Klein said it’s a tool to combat federal laws that violates the Constitution.

Klein has a ready example in mind.

“Obamacare would be a clear violation if it was forced down our throats,” she said.

The federal health care overhaul is currently being litigated in federal court.

The proposal reflects a deep-seated animus by some lawmakers towards federal mandates.

Supporters said it’s a mechanism to check excesses by the federal government and to compel it to abide by constitutional boundaries.

Last year, a similar proposal to “nullify” federal laws also by a simple majority vote of the Legislature failed twice in the Senate, where some Republicans believed it went too far.

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