Proposition 119 important for military bases
This is one in a series of editorials about the propositions on the November ballot.
One proposition on the November ballot hits close to home for those of us who live in Yuma County because it is intended to benefit military bases.
Proposition 119, like most of the ballot measures this year, was put there by the state Legislature. It would amend the Arizona Constitution to allow trading of state trust land for other property. Right now, trust land can only be sold or leased.
Nearly 11 million acres were given to the state by the federal government when Arizona became a state. Some 9 million acres remain. Known as trust land, proceeds from the land are used primarily to support public schools.
The ability to trade trust land for private land is needed to protect military bases from commercial encroachment, which can be detrimental to military operations and could eventually lead to the bases being closed or relocated. Military bases are often critical elements in the economies of communities, including our own.
Once swaps are approved, the state could offer to trade its state land for the private land owned by the developers. That would guarantee undeveloped space around military bases.
Unfortunately, Arizona voters have repeatedly rejected this idea in past years, probably out of fear that prime state trust land would be traded for less desirable private land owned by developers.
Environmental groups in particular were concerned about this, but now they seem to be on board with the idea, primarily because strong protections have been put in place in Proposition 119. There is no organized opposition this time.
Before any land exchange could take place, there would be public hearings, appraisals and studies of the cost and benefits. The Legislature would have to sign off on any trade and, finally, voters would have to approve it.
That is a deep layer of protections and we hope voters will support Proposition 119. It would have particular benefits for our community, but it would also help protect bases in other parts of the state.