State senators took the first steps Wednesday to put county sheriffs between federal agencies and local residents and businesses. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.
The legislation approved by the Senate Committee on Public Safety would require any federal agency that does business in any county to first register with the local sheriff. But, the real heart of the bill would require any agency seeking to inspect any home or business, or inspect any records, to first present the sheriff with a court-approved warrant. And Sen. Chester Crandell who crafted the measure said failure of an agency to follow that procedure — or produce a search warrant that has been reviewed by the sheriff — would permit the individual or business to turn away the federal workers. Much of his frustration is with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
“They show up at the gate. You have to let them in. If you don’t let them in you get fined. And they go and do whatever they want to while they’re on the premise trying to find a penalty. And then they levy fines,” Crandell said.
But, Crandell said his measure is broader than that, even to the point letting someone ignore an Internal Revenue Service audit if the agency it did not have a sheriff-approved search warrant. He conceded, though, there might be implications for anyone who spurns the feds, including a fine by the agency or even the risk of being shut down. And, Crandell said he foresees a likely court fight with the federal government.