The Arizona House of Representatives on Wednesday gave initial approval to a bill that some proponents say is aimed at stopping a United Nations conspiracy to take away the rights of American citizens.
Critics say the bill is not only based on crackpot “one-world-order” theories, but that it would make valuable state programs illegal and take away the state’s authority to manage natural resources.
The bill, SB1507, sponsored by Sen. Judy Burges, R-Skull Valley, would make it illegal for any government entity in the state to abide by any tenet or principle of the non-binding United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, adopted by the international group in 1992.
The declaration includes 27 principles, such as promoting sustainable communities, managing natural resources and working toward the eradication of poverty.
Rep. Terri Proud, a Tucson Republican and proponent of the bill, said in a mass email to her supporters that the non-binding declaration “will take away our rights as Americans by allowing the United Nations to mandate laws on our soil.”
“It’s very real and it is happening,” Proud’s email warns.
During Wednesday’s spirited floor debate on the bill, Rep. Jack Harper, a Surprise Republican, said the declaration is connected to the “occult” of sustainability.
Because SB1507 would make any state actions or funding that even align with the declaration illegal, the bill’s critics say that things like funding the Department of Economic Security would become illegal because it falls into the broad definition of working toward the eradication of poverty.
Likewise, critics say public-private solar and wind energy projects could become illegal because they are part of the effort to develop sustainable energy solutions, which the Rio Declaration also promotes. And sustainability research at the state’s three universities could be put into jeopardy because of the same reasoning.
House Rules Attorney Tim Fleming said in late March, when the bill moved through the Rules Committee, that worries about the bill making such state efforts illegal are warranted.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, asked during the committee’s hearing on the bill whether someone would be able to bring a lawsuit against the state for participating in or funding anything that could be construed as aligning with the declaration’s broad principles.
Fleming said that would likely be the case.
“I think it has potentially broad policy ramifications,” Fleming said.
But Fleming also said he didn’t see anything unconstitutional about the bill, which is the Rules Committee’s primary question for any bill.
Campbell said the SB1507 is the worst bill he’s ever seen in the Legislature.
The bill awaits a final vote in the House.