State Capitol News
3:33 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

AZ Senate Committee Sends Warning to Feds

The legislation would require federal officers to notify the sheriff "before taking any official law enforcement action in a county in this state." Sierra Vista Republican Representative David Gowan said it's a simple matter of state sovereignty.

"If you look in your Constitution, you will not find that there are any police powers granted to the federal government," said Gowan. "And in such, the Tenth Amendment dictates that anything not granted to the federal government is reserved to the states respectively or the people."

He said that means the states have the sole right to law enforcement. And Gowan said the highest elected law enforcement officers in Arizona are the sheriffs, making them supreme over what he called federal bureaucrats. Phoenix Democratic Senator Steve Gallaro said that may be true. But he said that, from a practical standpoint, it's also irrelevant.

"Why would a federal agency listen to a local sheriff?" asked Gallaro. "We're telling a federal agency, you've got to do this. What would prevent a federal agency saying, 'Yeah, thank you, but we'll tell you when we're good and ready to tell you?"

Gowan conceded the measure, which now goes to the full Senate, has no enforcement mechanism other than the consciences of the federal officers.