Prop 120 Soundly Defeated

Arizona Voters Overwhelmingly Reject State Legislature’s Land Grab

Proposition 120 Defeated by More Than Two-to-one Margin


Phoenix, Ariz. – Arizona voters soundly rejected Proposition 120, the “State Sovereignty” measure, by more than a two-to-one margin. Proposition 120 was referred to the ballot by the Arizona Legislature. It would have amended the Arizona Constitution to assert state sovereignty and to establish that the state has exclusive authority and jurisdiction over air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife, and other natural resources within the state, in an attempt to both gain control of federal public lands and to undermine important federal environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

“Arizona voters clearly saw this for what it was – the Legislature’s harsh and unrelenting attack against conservation stewardship and natural resource protection,” said Carolyn Campbell, No on Prop 120 Campaign Chair and Executive Director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. “These laws are the bedrock of an environmental legacy forged over the last 50 years and are critical to protecting one of the most ecologically rich regions of the country.”

This extreme amendment would have set in motion a demand by the State that all federal public lands in Arizona – roughly 27 million acres, including wildland gems such as Grand Canyon, Tonto National Forest, and Saguaro National Park – be turned over to the state. Arizona’s state parks system has been in a perpetual state of neglect, so the idea that the state could actually afford to manage millions of acres of public land was a stretch, even for Governor Jan Brewer, who vetoed a measure similar to Proposition 120 during this last legislative session.

“Arizona voters’ overwhelming rejection of Prop. 120 reveals just how out of touch the Arizona Legislature is with the people of Arizona,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Arizona is fortunate to have public lands that provide wildlife habitat, watershed protection, and a multitude of recreational opportunities. It is time for the Legislature to recognize that and to join the voters in supporting protection of our air, land, and water.”

Ninety percent of Arizonans – from all across the political spectrum – agree that public lands are “an essential part of Arizona’s economy.”[1] They also consistently voice support for funding of conservation, even during difficult budget times, and in continuing investments in parks, water, and wildlife protection.

Aside from the strong support for public lands and the significant concerns about how the Arizona Legislature would manage them, Proposition 120 was an unconstitutional proposition and contrary to Arizona’s enabling act. When Arizona became a state 100 years ago, the state made a contractual obligation with the rest of the nation regarding public lands and resources. Proposition 120 was a blatant attempt to break this contract. Not only is the Arizona Legislature out of touch with Arizona voters, but it is also out of touch with the laws that govern our state.