In December of last year an amendment to Arizona’s constitution was introduced by representatives Chester Crandell, Brenda Barton, and state senator Sylvia Allen. On Monday the proposed change was approved by committee in the state’s senate, as reported by The Yuma Sun, and with full Senate approval will begin making its way to the ballot in November.
The proposed amendment, HCR 2004, is intended to reassert Arizona’s sovereignty as a state, and regain control over much of the state’s lands and resources. According to Section C. of the proposal: “The State of Arizona declares its sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries….” The authors made exceptions for existing military posts, Indian reservations, and federal property, pursuant to the US constitution’s Article I, Section 8, Clause 17.
According to senator Allen, the federal government made “an implicit promise” to the state of Arizona in 1912, in exchange for control over large sections of state lands. The deal was supposed to allow the federal government to sell off the land to pay the national debt, but as Allen describes, this never happened.
Presently the feds control almost half of the state’s lands, with total holdings standing at well over 100,000 square miles. Private ownership amounts to only seventeen percent, with the remaining territory is held by the state and reservations.
One of the benefits senator Allen sees to the amendment is that it would allow the state to tax the newly sold property. So it’s clear that while the measure would restore more localized control of the land, and undoubtedly put it to more productive use, both good things, the state government stands to gain significant amounts of tax revenue were the deal to move forward.
As it stands there seems to be no organized opposition to the amendment, but the senate minority leader hinted that it may not pass so easily. Assuming the house approves the measure, voters in November will ultimately decide its outcome.
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