Arizona lawmakers are once again challenging federal authority despite warnings it will just land the state on the Daily Show -- again.
On a voice vote, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a measure which allows Arizonans to "reject a federal action that the people determine violates the United States Constitution.'' SCR 1016 permits them to do that through legislative action or having a public vote.
Thursday's action came despite the fact that an identical measure on the 2012 ballot failed by a 2-1 margin.
This time, though, senators are adding language to take the plan even farther. If approved, the measure would prohibit the state and local government from using their employees or finance resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with any federal action or program they determine is not "consistent with the Constitution.''
The idea of challenging the federal government drew derision from Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix.
"We're putting language that is totally unconstitutional on our state ballot at our next election,'' he said.
"Let's be serious now,'' Gallardo continued. "If we want to get away from the Daily Show and all the national type television shows that keep mocking Arizona, we must put an end to stuff like this.''
Arizona and the actions of its elected officials have been a regular target of the humor of Daily Show host Jon Stewart. At one point he said that if states are supposed to be the laboratories of democracy, Arizona has proven itself to be "the meth lab of democracy.''
But Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, said the measure simply reflects the system of government in the United States.
Crandell said the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the U.S. Constitution is a limit on federal power, not on the power of the states. And he said that was reinforced just last year when the court, while upholding most of the federal Affordable Care Act, rules the federal government "still must show that a constitutional grant of power authorizes each of its actions.''
The vote in favor of putting the issue on the 2014 ballot came after the Republican-controlled Senate rejected a proposal by Sen. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, to add what amounts to a word of warning to voters: Ignoring federal laws and mandates comes at a price.
"We will lose quite a bit of funding,'' he said, with federal dollars often contingent on following federal rules. "We already are a donor state,'' Ableser continued, with Arizona taxpayers as a whole paying more in federal taxes than the state gets back.
But Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, suggested that spurning federal dollars may not be a bad thing, citing the federal deficit.
The measure needs a final roll-call vote before going to the House and, if approved there, on the 2014 ballot.