A Senate panel voted Thursday to fire a warning shot of sorts over the heads of federal law enforcement agencies: Don’t come around here unless you get local OK.

The legislation, crafted by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, would require employees of those agencies to first notify the sheriff of the county “before taking any official law enforcement action in a county in this state.”

The only exception would be if the notification would impede the federal officer’s duties. But even then, HB 2434 has a requirement to notify the sheriff “as soon as practicable after taking the action.”

Gowan said it’s a simple matter of state sovereignty.

“If you look in your Constitution, you will not find there are any police powers granted to the federal government,” he said. And Gowan said the Tenth Amendment says any powers not given to the federal government are reserved for the states and the people.

“That means the states have the inherent right to use law enforcement,” he said.

From a practical standpoint, Gowan said the highest elected law enforcement officers in the state are the sheriffs of the 15 counties.

“They have a mandate from the people over bureaucracies,” he said, which includes federal agencies. “Without this, we allow the bureaucrats to dictate and bring their vision of law enforcement down upon the people who are duly elected.”

Gowan said his legislation would bring back the state’s sovereignty “in line with what we need to be to make sure our citizens have all the liberty they can handle.”

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said that, constitutional philosophy aside, he sees a more practical problem with the legislation.

“Why would a federal agency listen to a local sheriff?” he asked.

“We’re telling a federal agency, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Gallardo continued. “What would prevent a federal agency saying, ‘Yeah, thank you, but we’ll tell you when we’re good and ready to tell you?’”

Gowan told members of the Senate Committee on Border Security, Federalism and States Sovereignty it’s because of the state’s constitutional authority.

Pressed for specifics after the 5-2 committee vote, Gowan acknowledged there is no actual penalty for a federal agency that refuses to comply — other than the knowledge they are violating state law.

“Do they want that on their conscience or not?” he asked.

Gowan said it would not apply to Border Patrol apprehending those who enter this country illegally, as there is inherent authority of the federal government to protect the border. But he said if they are investigating anything else, their authority is inferior to that of the sheriff.

(11) comments

Dale Whiting


I challenge your underlying premise! Does Joe think?


Wonder what Joe thinks of this?

Dale Whiting

Ok kids, it's time for your United States Constitution lecture of the day!

"Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Treaties, made pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, shall be "the supreme law of the land." The text decrees these to be the highest form of law in the U.S. legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either the state constitution or state law of any state. (Note that the word "shall" is used, which makes it a necessity, a compulsion.) However, the Supremacy Clause only applies if the federal government [i.e. a federal law enforcement agent] is acting in pursuit of its constitutionally authorized powers, as noted by the phrase "in pursuance thereof" in the actual text of the Supremacy Clause itself." [Widkipedia: Supremacy Clause]

In other words, HB2434 is unconstitutional. [Sorry kj if this hurts your feelings!] The feds will ignor it. And when the State tries to bring suit [it will have to be in federal district court - Judge Susan Bolton no doubt], the State will loose and once again Arizona will become the laughing stock of the nation.

And just in case you were wondering, all divisions of the branch of government known as the Executive Branch which are engaged in enforcing federal laws passed by the branch known as the Legislative Branch, are given powers supreme to those of state law enforcment agencies. And Judge Bolton is in that third branch of government known as the Judicial Branch.

Now study this closely, kids. A test is scheduled for next week!


Do not let you heart be troubled, Slabside, I got your back. Our beloved Constitution is coming back to the prominence and respect it so duley deserves. Long live the Tea Party! The illegal in the White House's days are numbered. The 10th amendment lives again!


My kids are both out of school. They both legally carry concealed as they do not wish to be a victim like yourself.


I'm flattered that you have followed my posts. I just call 'em like I see 'em.
What possible benefit do the people of Arizona derive from this obvious power play that has absolutely no effect on federal agencies. Does anyone thing they are going to call Joe and say "Joe can we please come to get that murderer in your well run county"? It's fluff and feel good for the poor, persecuted souls who are in power now.
And that black guy in the WHITE House, is really your president. Get over it.
Do you send your kids to school with guns????


[sad] Humor me, Slabside, since when is the city government of New York part of the federal government?


It starts as anarchy. Then a tyrant takes control, and his children become a monarchy. A democracy wrests control from the monarchs and degenerates back into anarchy. Why must you be so predictable?


I support this legislation. It would stop the liberal madness like New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sending his undercover thugs to Arizona to investigate our gun laws.


I'd die in disbelief if downtownresident ever posted something uplifting and positive for once. It's always the same negative bashing horse manure over and over.


I'd die of disbelief if our legislature actually passed a law that benefited the citizens of Arizona.
The things they do are more insane every day.
Guns in school.
All fools can carry concealed. Oh, if you're a felon, don't do it.
Border vigilantes.......
The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

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