PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Senate has rejected a measure for the second week in a row that would have allowed the state to vote on bills blocking authorities from enforcing or financing any federal action not affirmed by Congress.
The proposal is one in a slew of state sovereignty bills Republican lawmakers have pushed since Proposition 122 passed in 2014 to block what they say is federal overreach. Critics say the state has no authority to deem federal policies unconstitutional.
Prescott Sen. Steve Pierce, one of the Republicans to vote against the measure, said he believes it’s a futile effort.
“I agree with the concept, but it isn’t going to do anything so why are we going through the motions?” Pierce said.
Senate President Andy Biggs said he supported the measure as a way to repair trust in government by restoring state sovereignty.
“The populous as a whole is very discontented and disenchanted with the direction that our national government seems to be pursuing,” he said when explaining his vote.
The measure would let the Legislature pass bills to prevent state agencies, cities and counties from cooperating with rules and regulations proposed by federal agencies or executive orders. It failed on a 15-15 vote Wednesday after coming back for a second and final time under rules that allow for reconsideration. Backers could find a procedural way to revive the legislation by tacking it on another bill, although that is unlikely.
Paul Bender, a professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, cited the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which grants the federal government legal precedence over states, as a reason why states lack the authority to challenge the constitutionality of a federal policy.
“The Arizona Legislature, all the time, it sort of puts itself in the position to determine if something is constitutional and it just doesn’t have the authority. That’s not its role,” Bender told the Associated Press earlier this year while speaking about another Proposition 122-inspired bill.
Republican lawmakers had their first chance to put Proposition 122 into action last session with bills that sought to block funding for the Affordable Care Act, demand the federal government transfer all public lands to the state before 2020 and block state cooperation with the Environmental Protections Agency over proposed changes to U.S. waters under the Clean Water Act. None were signed into law.
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