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Arizona lawmakers revive private border wall bill

Posted at 1:59 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 15:59:31-05

PHOENIX - Arizona Republicans on Thursday revived a measure that would make it easier for property owners on the U.S.-Mexico border to build a wall, a week after it fell one vote short of passage.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Warren Petersen, would allow people to sidestep permitting requirements to build a border wall. It passed in a 31-29 party-line vote and goes next to the Senate.

GOP lawmakers say it would prevent political interference from local officials philosophically opposed to a border wall.

"If we're going to be a humane society we do not want to encourage people, especially young children, to come across the border and risk life and limb,'' said Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe.

Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend said the measure would ensure that local officials who approve building permits wouldn't be bribed or threatened by drug cartels.

Democrats said a border wall promotes a message of exclusion. They also point to potential safety and environmental hazards that permitting requirements are meant to prevent.

"I'm against this bill because I think its branding Arizona in the wrong light,'' Democratic Rep. Robert Meza said.

Last week, Republican Rep. Tony Rivero joined all 29 Democrats in opposition, leaving the bill one vote short of passing. He joined his fellow Republicans in the re-vote on Thursday. He did not explain his change of heart.