PHOENIX - Fearing international intrusion into Arizona's affairs, the Senate voted Wednesday to make it illegal for state and local governments to recognize the United Nations or any of its declarations as legal authority here.
While some lawmakers have always been suspicious of the U.N., the focus of this measure is that organization's Rio Declaration, adopted in 1992, which deals with issues of environment and development. Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, said the key to her SB 1403 is ensuring that decisions and policies adopted by the international body that are contrary to federal and state law are not adopted here.
"The only thing that would be prohibited under my bill is if it's unconstitutional," she said.
"It asks the people to stand up and to support those things that support the Constitution, which is the guiding principles of this country," Burges continued. "The Constitution is what has protected us against an overreaching government all of these years."
But Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, pointed out that the Rio Declaration was signed by then-President George W. Bush, a Republican. Farley also said those who are concerned do not understand the principles it set out.
For example, he said, one says that humans are the center of concern for development. Farley said rejecting that principle effectively has Arizona saying that humans are not the center of concern.
Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, cited another principle that says women should have a role in environmental management and development.
None of that convinced Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber. "I don't think that we here in the states, under the Constitution of the United States, need other nations telling us what we need to do in our country that our people have fought for the freedoms that we have."
The legislation goes beyond the question of recognition of U.N. declarations.
It would make it illegal for state or local governments to spend any money to any group "that espouses the usurping or overthrow of the Constitution of the United States." That is based on the conclusion that the U.N. gets the support of not only member nations but also "numerous independent, nongovernmental organizations to implement its agenda around the world."
A final roll-call vote is needed before the measure goes to the House.