KNAU and Arizona News
Fri April 1, 2011
Flagstaff rebels against state laws
By Daniel Kraker
Flagstaff, AZ –
Probably the most controversial states rights bill considered by the Arizona legislature this year was the so-called "nullification" bill. It would have allowed Arizona to nullify any federal law the state legislature disagreed with. Senator Ron Gould supported the proposal.
"The states are the check to overwhelming federal power," he said. "And we have the ability to nullify things. Because we've seen over the years a consolidation of power to the federal government."
At the same time, though, Gould and others have passed laws that take authority away from Arizona cities. For example, Arizona towns now cannot ban a restaurant from selling fatty meals with toys like a MacDonald's happy meal.
That went too far for Flagstaff mayor Sara Presler. So she's fighting back.
"We're considering a law," she declared, "that would mandate that those happy meals be all organic, all free range, all local, all macrobiotic, all the packaging has to be from locally sourced recycled materials, and I'm forgetting something oh yes, no drive-thrus would be allowed, only bike-thrus, or walk-thrus "
The city is also moving to nullify a state law declaring English the official language. Instead, NAU linguist Wendy Wordsmith is creating a brand new language that combines English, Spanish and Navajo.
"For example," she points out, "when you want to say hi to someone you would say "yah-hell-a" a combination of yahteh, hello, and hola. We just think it's a more politically correct approach to the whole language issue."
And the city council has already voted unanimously to ignore a recently passed state law declaring the Colt single-action Army revolver the official state firearm. But there's been disagreement over what law to pass in its place. Flagstaff Councilman Matt Spicoli knows what he's pushing:
"In the wake of the new medical marijuana law," he says with slightly slurred speech, "I want to declare an official city slang term for weed I'm thinkin' something like Puffin' on the Peaks, Canyon Cannabis, or Reefer de Flag."
But not all northern Arizona cities are upset with the legislature's approach. Prescott officials don't mind that the state now forbids it from banning guns in their public buildings.
In fact some want the state to go even further. Prescott city council member Smith Wesson is lobbying for a new private prison in the area, and he says the inmates should be allowed to carry concealed weapons.
"It will save us tremendous amounts of money in security guards," he points out. "And just because they're criminals, that doesn't mean they should lose the right to defend themselves."
Anonymous sources say that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio also backs the idea. But only if the prisoners are forced to carry hot pink guns, loaded with pink bullets.