NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 10, 2010

Last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law Senate Bill 1398, which mandates that local governments enforce their "coordination rights" against federal agencies.  This new law enlists Arizona cities, counties and special districts in the fight against an overreaching federal government, says Nick Dranias, Director of the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Government. 

  • Senate Bill 1398 leverages the fact that federal agencies are required by many federal laws to "coordinate" with local governments to ensure that new federal regulations will be enforced consistently with existing local laws.
  • In other states, local governments have successfully used their coordination rights to block the introduction of wild horses into public and private lands, as well as to prevent new listings of endangered species.  

Despite these successes, most local governments simply do not exercise their coordination rights, perhaps for fear of upsetting federal agencies, says Dranias. 

Now, whenever a new federal regulation clashes with a less restrictive local law, plan or policy, Senate Bill 1398: 

  • Requires Arizona cities, counties and special districts to demand that the responsible federal agency sit down at a bargaining table and make every reasonable effort to modify the federal regulation to become consistent with local priorities.
  • Compels locally elected officials to justify their inaction at a public hearing, thus guaranteeing local accountability. 

The effort to restore federalism does not end with the passage of Senate Bill 1398.  To stake out an initial bargaining position that will blunt one-size-fits-all federal regulations, local governments in Arizona need to start developing freedom-friendly land use policies before the need for coordination arises, says Dranias.  

Source: Nick Dranias, "New state law requires cities and counties to challenge intrusive federal rules," Goldwater Institute, May 5, 2010. 


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