Arizona legislature fails to pass ballot measure on drug cartels

Proponents of the bill said it was a necessary step to tackle drug-related crime in the state.

Published: June 18, 2024 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

The Arizona Senate failed to pass a ballot initiative that would designate drug cartels as terrorist organizations.

House Concurrent Resolution 2038 passed the House with a vote of 31-28 in February but failed in the Senate 15-14 with all Democrats voting against the HCR and Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, being absent on Saturday.

“This state declares that drug cartels are terrorist organizations. The [Arizona] Department [of Homeland Security] shall do everything within its authority to address the threat posed by drug cartels. Nothing in this section supports an alien's claim for asylum under federal law,” the concurrent resolution stated.

Proponents of the bill said it was a necessary step to tackle drug-related crime in the state.

“I’m hoping that there are some members that understand how important it is to the state of Arizona to protect our citizens from the terror that’s happening at our southern border,” Sen. Janae Shamp, R-Surprise, said during the vote, which was a reconsideration.

If the bill had passed, voters would have had the final say in November in the form of a ballot proposition.

Senate Minority Leader Mitzi Epstein suggested that it was to force a reprioritization of the the state’s Homeland Security department, arguing it posed a public safety risk, saying it would "take away attention" from other threats but agrees that cartels do conduct themselves like terror groups.

"This bill is not a solution," the Democrat said.

"This law would re-prioritize what their supposed to do instead of having them stick to their mission," she added regarding Homeland Security.

The legislative session finished on Saturday with the passage of the budget. When it comes to border policy, the legislature did send HCR2060 to the ballot, which would make it a state crime to enter the state through anywhere besides a legal port of entry.

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