State senators voted Thursday to let lawmakers nullify federal laws -- but not before refusing to give Pima County permission to secede to avoid all the embarrassment.
The measure, given preliminary approval on a voice vote, would set up a committee empowered to review all past and future federal actions to determine whether they are constitutional. That panel's recommendations of unconstitutionality would go to the full Legislature.
It would take only a simple majority of lawmakers to declare the action null and void. And if that happens, "this state and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order.''
Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem, said the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government only limited powers.
"This gives our body the ability to look at Obamacare and some other things that actually will throw this state into the Third World country that we don't want to be,'' she said. Klein said federal mandates are "actually bankrupting with some of the laws that are being passed that I would deem to say are unconstitutional.''
Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, chose not to try to block SB 1433 which has strong Republican support, including that of Senate President Russell Pearce. Instead, she sought to amend it to say that the moment this law takes effect, the Pima County Board of Supervisors "may act to have the county secede from the jurisdiction of this state.''
Aboud said Pima County residents really do want to remain part of Arizona.
"But we don't want to be part of this state that continues to embarrass Arizona,'' she said. "The point is, our business community is hurting because of the reactions brought upon by this body.''
She pointed out that business lobbyists testified earlier this week against legislation to define who is a citizen of the state and the nation.
That measure, awaiting Senate action, is designed to force the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the 14th Amendment entitles anyone born in U.S. soil to automatic citizenship. Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said these kind of bills undermine efforts to promote tourism and convince firms to move to Arizona.
"The business community was ridiculed for their opposition to immigration legislation, ridiculed because they were asking for a little peace so that this economy can recover so Arizona can regain its stature and dignity,'' Aboud said.
But the Senate, on a voice vote, killed her plan.
The vote is largely irrelevant, as it is Congress, and not the Legislature or any county's board of supervisors, which gets to create new states.
Despite that, business interests in Pima County are making noise about seeking their own state, though which areas would want to secede and which would not remains unclear. But the chances of getting the other states to approve -- and to give Southern Arizona two seats in the U.S. Senate -- is virtually nil.
A final roll-call vote on SB 1433 will send it to the House.