Bill would restrict agriculture regulations

Bill would restrict agriculture regulations

Feb 26, 2006, 10:43 PM

KVOA, Tuscon

A constitutional amendment that would ban new laws regulating the agriculture industry is making its way through the legislature, and so far it has seen smooth sailing.

Proponents of the bill contend that agriculture is so complex, it shouldn’t be regulated by those without a background in the subject. Critics call it nutty and absurd.

Republican Sen. Jake Flake is sponsoring the bill and said he is worried about special interests or even local government attempts to stymie the industry.

If passed, the constitutional amendment would go before voters in November.

“If we don’t have some way to stop special-interest groups, we’ll find ourselves with some real shortages in the state of Arizona, not just food but fuel, fiber, many different things,” said Flake, a cattle rancher and chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee.

The measure has sailed through two Senate committees, including Flake’s, with bipartisan support and only minor changes. It is expected to be considered for preliminary approval by the Senate this week.

Those who oppose it call it absurd and radical and say putting a single industry out of reach of citizens or the legislature is unprecedented.

“It scares the heck out of me,” said Tim Hogan, executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. “It carves out an unprecedented exemption for agriculture. It seems like a radical departure from the way we have governed for a couple hundred years in this country.”

The bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1035, would constitutionally bar legislators or citizens from passing agricultural laws. It prohibits any new laws or regulations that “limit or restrict the production of agricultural products” except in certain circumstances, including public health and safety and water use.

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