Prop 119: Public lands ballot measure returns, with support

There have been many prior versions; most were defeated.

By Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services/East Valley Tribune

Seven times now, voters have rejected ballot measures to give the state the power to trade away public lands.

But Sen. John Nelson, R-Litchfield Park, thinks the eighth time is a charm, if for no other reason than this one is different than the last seven. And he thinks that lawmakers have addressed all the concerns that sent the others down to defeat.

It appears to be the case.

Proposition 119 has no organized opposition. In fact, it has the active support of several environmental groups — groups who rallied voters to kill several of the earlier versions.

And what may be more important, Nelson said proponents actually plan to raise money to wage a campaign.

At the heart of the issue is that when Arizona became a state, the federal government gave it close to 11 million of acres of land to be held in trust. The proceeds from the sale or lease of the property, or from selling timber or mineral rights, is largely earmarked for public schools.


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September 2012