Arizona hog-tied by federal mandates

by Nick Dranias
Goldwater Institute
Until recently, state and local government interaction with the federal government seemed to consist mostly of local and state officials asking D.C. for more money. As a result, many states, counties and cities have ended up on their backs, hog-tied by federal mandates. What James Madison called our “compound republic” cannot stand unless state and local governments recognize their obligation to join with the people in resisting federal overreach.

Fortunately, several bills before the Arizona Legislature would let local officials stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Arizonans in fending off expanded federal regulations. For example, SCR1050, the “Freedom to Breathe Amendment,” seeks to amend the state constitution to resist federal regulation of harmless carbon dioxide emissions. Senate Bill 1098 and House Bill 2307 would authorize in-state firearms manufacturing and sales under state regulations that are far less burdensome than federal rules. HB 2337 challenges the federal government’s effort to ban the in-state manufacturing of incandescent light bulbs. And SB 1398 would mandate that counties, cities and towns use their existing rights under federal law to require federal agencies to reduce the burden of any new regulation.

During the November general election, Arizona voters will consider two other measures already referred to the ballot by the Legislature: the Health Care Freedom Act and Save Our Secret Ballot, which respectively can protect the right of Arizonans to make their own health care decisions and guarantee Arizonans the right to a secret ballot vote during union-organizing elections.

Arizona is brimming with ideas that could make it routine and mandatory for state and local public officials to challenge unconstitutional federal government encroachment at every turn.

Far from an exercise in futility, such legislation reflects the public’s desire to preserve the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers between the state and federal governments. Consistent resistance to unconstitutional federal action cannot help but chasten federal officials who might otherwise regulate without restraint.

Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is Director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.


  1. Rosco P Coltrane says

    I thought I spent a lot of time fighting the federal government’s encroachment into our lives during the Bush years, but this is ridiculous.

    I can think of only one bill in the US Congress today that isn’t a direct attack on We the People – Audit the Fed. Everything else is against us.

    Wow, the next few years are going to be interesting.

  2. Federal mandates often come attached to federal aid. The first step is to limit and decrease the amount of federal aid that is given to Arizona. Federal mandates limit states’ freedom of action. States after all, know what’s best for themselves, rather than a centralized, far away Washington telling states what’s best for them. All more reason to elect Republicans to office.

  3. Veritas Vincit says

    Gee… didn’t that ‘conservative’ John McCain maverick of the senate protect his home state?

    guess not …

  4. Veritas:


    And he’s our “last line of defense”!!!

  5. Since the Federal Government is stealing our freedoms one piece at a time we need strong state leaders such as the Governor. I would submit that Dean Martin is such a person and deserves our support. He is good on taxes, immigration and the 2’nd ammendment among others.
    We can also start in 2010 by getting rid of the bums in congress especially those who voted for that embarrasment called universal medical care. Most of them didn’t bother to read the bill. Good grief where are we going with those clowns?

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