A landmark effort to protect Arizona’s military facilities by allowing state trust lands to be exchanged for federal land has been approved by the State Senate. The bipartisan 24-6 vote allows SB 1001 and SCR1001 to be transferred to the House of Representatives.
If approved, the bills will allow Arizona to exchange state trust land for federal land in the same county. The exchanges will require approval of the state legislature and voters statewide.
“With the Obama Administration preparing significant cuts in defense spending, it’s more important than ever for the state to proactively protect its military facilities,” said Senator John Nelson, who sponsored both bills. “Without this legislation,Arizona’s military facilities—and the communities they support—are at risk.”
Military faculties such as Luke Air Force Base in Senator Nelson’s district, as well as Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, have come under threat due to the encroachment of development of private land. “If state trust land near military facilities is allowed to be developed, many of these bases would be forced to close,” says Senator Nelson.
Currently, military bases are one of the largest employers within the state of Arizona. They offer a tremendous and irreplaceable economic impact to local economies and provide tax revenue, which help to fund Arizona schools, healthcare, and public safety institutions.
The bill sponsor also expressed hope that the legislation will allow state trust land to be consolidated, thus increasing its value and corresponding revenue to Arizona’s schools and universities.
“This is a win-win for the state, its military facilities, and its schools,” says Senator Nelson.