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State Trust Lands:
federal acquisition; state lands; monitoring

Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: HB2700
Sponsor: Thorpe
Legislative Session: 2014 Legislative Session

State Trust Land by Sandy Bahr

HB2700 federal acquisition; state lands; monitoring would have required the State Land Department to identify which state trust lands have been transferred to the federal government since statehood and then to require compensation from the federal government. HB2700 statesd that the Legislature and Attorney General must take steps to recover and acquire all state lands within Arizona that have been acquired by the federal government.

There were many problems with this bill. First of all, many state trust lands that were “acquired” were acquired via land exchanges where the state received land that it then auctioned off for development, so it received compensation for those lands already. For example, many of the state trust lands out by the White Tank Mountains were conveyed to the state via a land exchange and many of those lands have been auctioned and developed. The provisions in this bill would have required the federal tax payers to pay twice for state trust lands, which is certainly contrary to federal law.

Another problem with HB2700 related to the land exchange provisions. It stated that the Attorney General and Legislature could require compensation via in lieu land exchanges. Doing so would be contrary to the Arizona Constitution’s provisions on how a land exchange must move forward. The State Land Department or Attorney General cannot approve a land exchange as a state trust land exchange can only proceed with the consent of the voters. (See Arizona Constitution Article 10, Section 12.) This constitutional amendment was approved by the voters (62% to 38%) in 2012 as Proposition 119.

Status

05/05/2014 - It failed in the Senate.

Action Needed

To see who voted no, click on HB2700 Senate Vote.

More information

You can read the bill by clicking on HB2700.

Contact

Sandy Bahr at sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org.

Background

Text Box: Photo by Julie Sherman.Over the years, the Arizona Legislature has sent many negative messages regarding federal public lands, many of which were aimed at giving the Legislature control of those lands and/or seeking to privatize them.  In 2012, several bills were introduced that took it a step further.  SB1332 was passed by the Legislature and vetoed by Governor Brewer. 

Governor Brewer’s May 14, 2012, veto letter on SB1332 stated:

“. . . as a staunch advocate for state sovereignty, we still must be mindful and respectful of our federal system.  The legislation appears to be in conflict or not reconcilable with U.S. Constitution Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 and Article VI, Clause 2, as well as the Enabling Act.”

Unfortunately, legislative leaders did not pay heed to the veto letter and passed another measure, HCR2004, which was referred to the ballot and became Proposition 120.  Proposition 120 would have amended the Arizona Constitution to assert state sovereignty and to establish that the state had exclusive authority and jurisdiction over air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife, and other natural resources within the state.  It was an attempt to both gain control of federal public lands and to undermine important federal environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Proposition 120 was defeated by more than a two-to-one margin (68% voted no and 32% voted yes) and failed in every county in Arizona!

 

COUNTY

YES VOTES (%)

NO VOTES (%)

Apache

41.1

58.9

Cochise

38.0

62.0

Coconino

28.9

71.1

Gila

37.3

62.7

Graham

44.0

56.0

Greenlee

39.5

60.5

La Paz

37.1

62.9

Maricopa

31.8

68.2

Mohave

37.5

62.5

Navajo

39.5

60.5

Pima

29.2

70.8

Pinal

33.5

66.5

Santa Cruz

30.8

69.2

Yavapai

34.0

66.0

Yuma

37.7

62.3

TOTAL

32.3

67.7

Table shows votes on Proposition 120 by county (in percentage).

Arizona is fortunate to have public lands that provide wildlife habitat, watershed protection, and a multitude of recreational opportunities. They also provide significant economic benefits to our state and our nation.  National Parks alone provide enormous economic benefits. According to the report, 2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation,

“In 2012, the National Park System received over 282 million recreation visits. NPS visitors spent $14.7 billion in local gateway regions (defined as communities within 60 miles of a park). The contribution of this spending to the national economy was 243 thousand jobs, $9.3 billion in labor income, $15.8 billion in value added, and $26.8 billion in output.”

Assuming that public lands are harmful to Arizona’s economy is unfounded and contrary to numerous studies. The people of Arizona recognize the significance and benefits of these lands. 
     
     

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