Rep. Karen Johnson, a Mesa Republican and chair of the House Committee on Federal Mandates and States' Rights, authored the resolution which the committee approved 3-2. Only the committee's vice-chair, Republican Rep. Gail Griffin, abstained from voting.
Specifically, House Concurrent Resolution 2034 outlines the origin of the United States, emphasizing the sovereignty of the states and their constitutional right to "establish a new federal government for themselves by following the precedent established by Article VII, Constitution of the United States, in which nine of the existing thirteen states dissolved the existing Union under the Articles of Confederation and automatically superceded the Articles."
It also articulates constitutional violations committed by the federal government as justification for the measure, saying "... the fifty current principals, or signatories, to the [Constitution] have done well in honoring and obeying it, yet the federal agent has, for decades, violated it in both word and spirit. The many violations of the Constitution of the United States by the federal government include disposing of federal property without the approval of Congress, usurping jurisdiction from the states in such matters as abortion and firearms rights and seeking control of public lands within state borders," says the resolution.
By adopting HRC 2034, Arizona states its intention to dissolve the current federal government with the approval of 34 other states and, in essence, start over. Participating states would re-ratify and re-establish the present Constitution "as the charter for the formation of a new federal government, to be followed by the election of a new Congress and President and the reorganization of a new judiciary," in keeping with the original intent of the "founding fathers." Individual members of the military will return to their respective states and report to the governor until a new president is elected.
In addition, each state will assume a prorated portion of the national debt and will own all land within its borders. After the new government is formed, the remaining 15 states will be permitted to join the revised union upon application, as was the case with the original union.
A three-year veteran to the Arizona Legislature, Johnson told the Sierra Times the resolution is "insurance policy."
"If the federal government declares martial law or attempts to confiscate guns, the states shouldn't have to put up with that," she said.
Joseph Stumph, well-known author and historian, testified in favor of the resolution at the hearing.
"We're proposing that if things get as bad as they could get, that these states won't allow the federal government to put us into a one-world government," said Stumph, who is publishing a similar proposal in his home state of Utah. "I don't expect we'll get 35 states to sign on. The American people are not educated enough on this yet," he added.
The resolution was introduced Jan. 26, and now needs to be approved by the Arizona House. Should HRC 2034 successfully complete the legislative process, it will appear on the November ballot for voter approval. But one legislator does not think the measure will be taken seriously.
Rep. Bill Brotherton, a Democrat member of Johnson's committee, called efforts to promote the bill a "total waste of time."
"Obviously ... one of the more important issues we have is mental health in this state," Brotherton said mockingly. "I wonder if we are going to have a bill on the grassy knoll next to decide who shot Kennedy."
Johnson said she was asked by several Maricopa County residents to look into preventing the federal government from asserting power not authorized by the federal and state Constitutions. To Johnson, the resolution is a watered down, limited version of the "Ultimatum Resolution," written and promoted by Stump.
Johnson said HRC 2034 was introduced in response to recent actions by the Clinton administration regarding the Grand Canyon. On a recent trip to the landmark, President Clinton declared three new national monuments, threatening the property and livelihood of ranchers in the region.
Fears of martial law and firearm confiscation are mere "conspiracy theories" to some, but in light of the elaborate preparations government made for potential Y2K problems -- including a ready-to-sign executive order giving Clinton the equivalent of dictatorial powers -- "these fears have become real possibilities," according to Johnson.
Johnson also made it clear that the action of possible secession should only take place if the federal government suspends or violates the Constitution without approval from the state.
"There may be times when the nation may be at war, and such steps may need to be taken. But the states should have a backup plan if necessary," she said.
Arizona is not alone in its fears. Johnson noted other legislators in other states are considering taking similar steps.
Despite her current success with HRC 2034, Johnson is not relying solely on non-binding resolutions to ensure state sovereignty. She has been joined by a coalition of six other Arizona state representatives, private ranchers and other states' legislators in a lawsuit filed against the federal government.
The lawsuit is an attempt to reverse creation of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, which covers more than 1 million acres of land, roughly the same amount as Grand Canyon National Park. The group says national monument status will affect use and access to its private property, which will be surrounded by the federal property.
It also asks the court to find the 1906 Antiquities Act, used to create the Parashant monument, unconstitutional. The coalition's lawyer claims the president "has taken the act to the point of actually abusing the rights of people in the West."
The act gives presidents emergency authority to protect threatened federal lands or "objects of historic and scientific interest," but lawyer Lana Marcussen said that in using the act for a non-emergency case, the president has gone too far.
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Julie Foster is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily.