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Posted Mar 22, 2013, 8:56 am
The state Senate narrowly approved a bill Thursday that would prohibit the state government and political subdivisions from recognizing the United Nations or its declarations.
Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, originally authored SB 1403 to have Arizona ignore the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. But she amended it on the floor to deal more generally with the U.N.
“The only thing that will be prohibited under my bill is if it’s unconstitutional,” Burges said Wednesday in the Senate Committee of the Whole. “And it asks the people to step up and support those things that support the Constitution, which is the guiding principle of this country. The Constitution is what’s protected us against an overreaching government all these years.”
As amended, the bill would prohibit public officials and state employees who are required swear loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and the laws of Arizona from recognizing the U.N. or its declarations as having legal authority here.
It would prohibit the state and political subdivisions from “directly and knowingly, for the express purpose of adopting or implementing the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Statement of Principles for Sustainable Development, expending any sum of money for, being a member of, receiving funding from, contracting services from, or giving financial or other forms of aid to any group that espouses the usurping or overthrow of the Constitution of the United States.”
With all Democrats and Sen. Rich Crandell, R-Mesa, voting against, the bill passed 16-13, forwarding it to the House.
The 1992 Rio Declaration followed a gathering of 172 nations, including the U.S., in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss sustainability issues like deforestation, water scarcity, poverty and equal rights for women. The conference has met periodically since to discuss the goals, most recently last year.
Sen. Steve Farley, R-Tucson, said the bill is “contorted” because it asks the Legislature to oppose something endorsed by President George H.W. Bush.
“We’re being told that this is the beginning of a conspiracy from the U.N. and the series of communists to undermine the way of American life,” he said.
It’s the second straight year a similar bill by Burges has made it out of the Senate. Last year’s won committee approval in the House but didn’t receive a floor vote.
David Wells, a political science professor at Arizona State University, said the bill stems from “unneeded fear.”
“Within conservative circles, the U.N. is an organization they almost fear will have control of the U.S., and that’s not true,” he said.
Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, said SB 1403 doesn’t clearly define what a political subdivision is and doesn’t explain how it would work.
“It’s more whacky legislation because we have leadership in the Legislature that will bring it to the floor,” Bahr said.
During a Feb. 18 meeting of the Senate Government and Environment Committee, Burges said Agenda 21, a program that came out of the Rio Conference, would change American life, heritage and liberty because it would take away control of land from people.
“The United Nation’s Agenda 21 program sounds absolutely wonderful at face value – sustainability, equity for the masses,” she said. “However, the truth contained inside this program is something sinister and dark.”