On 17 March, 2016, Governor Ducey signed into law SB1487. The law gives legislators and the State Attorney General a way to sanction lower units of government who flout the State Constitution and State law. How does it work? From the bill(pdf)
41-194.01. Violations of state law by counties, cities and towns; attorney general investigation; report; withholding of state shared revenue
A. AT THE REQUEST OF ONE OR MORE MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHALL INVESTIGATE ANY ORDINANCE, REGULATION, ORDER OR OTHER OFFICIAL ACTION ADOPTED OR TAKEN BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF A COUNTY, CITY OR TOWN THAT THE MEMBER ALLEGES VIOLATES STATE LAW OR THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA.
A legislator files a complaint with the state Attorney General stating the allegations that a sub unit of government is violating the State Constitution or state law. The AG investigates and makes a report to the Governor, the Secretary of State, the Senate, the House and the originating legislator(s). The report needs to be don in 30 days. If the report concludes that the governing body is in violation, they will be given 30 days to comply; if they do not comply, state revenue sharing will be withheld.
Once they comply, revenue sharing will be restored.
Political subdivisions of the State are all creatures created by the State government, which are regulated by the state government. No authority at a lower level than the State, except for the people, has direct Constitutional authority. Only the State and the people do: all the rest are derivative from state authority.
The problem has been that some political subdivisions of the state have decided not to obey state law, on the presumption that the State has no penalties in place to force compliance. This law puts the penalty authority in place. It also allows for subdivisions of the state to ignore those penalties if they are willing to give up the state revenue sharing.
Arizona Citizens Defense League (AZCDL) supported this reform, as they have seen numerous instances where subdivisions of the state have violated the state firearms preemption law with impunity. I have personally noted situations where local governments refuse to check firearms (store them) for areas where they restrict access from legally armed people, as required by law. Tucson has put in place a legal requirement to report lost or stolen firearms that is in violation of state law. This law provides a means of redress.
Are there dangers in this law? Certainly. An unscrupulous AG could cut off revenue sharing from political subdivisions that they wished to punish; the AG could refuse to certify that they were following the law not matter what they did.
The only redress would be to impeach the AG, or to replace them from office in the next election. It may be sufficient. Perhaps this will spark a movement for political subdivisions to return to less reliance on the State to collect and redistribute taxes. The most responsible political subdivisions would be least subject to this type of sanction.
Some of the earliest complaints will likely be about firearms law. We will find out in the next few months.
Other states have taken other, more specific measures to insure that subdivisions of the state comply with laws designed to protect the right to keep and bear arms. Florida and Pennsylvania have passed laws that allow individuals and organizations to sue subdivisions who flout the law. Those laws allow the plaintiffs to collect costs and punitive damages.
Texas has a law that requires the AG to investigate governmental subdivisions who violate State law on where firearms may be prohibited.
Definition of disarmist
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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