‘Constitutional Chickens’ bill lays an egg

What does it say about the priorities of Arizonans when the most commented upon bill of the legislative session is the “constitutional chickens” bill sponsored by Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa)? Lawmaker: Homegrown chicken and eggs are a constitutional right. (It is also one of the most commented upon posts at this blog).

The CPS scandal, which the legislature still has not addressed — meh. Political corruption in this state from legislators being prosecuted, to money laundering of campaign finances, to undisclosed gifts to legislators — meh. Creating jobs, funding public education, health care, infrastructure and roads — meh.

But backyard chickens? Oh, hell yeah! The chicken lovers go insane. Well, cluck you! The “constitutional chickens” bill just laid an egg in the legislature. I love this Arizona Capitol Times headline (subscription required), Despite lots of clucking, chicken bill doesn’t come home to roost:

gonzo-and-camilla-the-chicken2Republican Sen. David Farnsworth’s bill to allow a chicken in every backyard captured the imagination of Arizonans and was one of the most talked-about bills of the legislative session.

Committee hearings about the bill were packed, and dragged on as everyone wanted to get a chicken-related joke into the conversation.

The comments and committee testimony on the bill were overwhelmingly supportive. Supporters extolled the health benefits of fresh eggs, spoke about economic independence in tough times and declared the virtue in teaching children responsibility through a pet.

The chicken bill flew through the upper chamber with only one senator voting against it.

But the House on Wednesday dashed any hope of Arizona becoming a haven of chicken freedom when lawmakers from both parties banded together to kill the bill with a 25-32 vote.

SB1151 would have barred municipalities from adopting a zoning ordinance that prohibits a resident of a single-family detached residence from keeping fowl in the backyard, though municipalities could still restrict the number of fowl.

The legislation would have preempted all local laws, ordinances and charter provisions to the contrary, but would not have affected HOA rules.

In the end, lawmakers decided the fate of chickens is best left up to local city councilmembers, who understand where chickens are and aren’t appropriate.

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Representatives gave a final tribute to the idea that captured the public imagination and provided seemingly endless opportunities for jokes by interrupting the debate with clucking and quacking sounds from their computers and smartphones.

Your Arizona legislature hard at work. God help us.

2 responses to “‘Constitutional Chickens’ bill lays an egg

  1. God help us is right. When someone on a 5,200 sf parcel can have 6 chickens and someone on an acre plus parcel CANNOT because of inappropriate zoning, then what would you recommend?

    This bill had little to do with fowl and MUCH to do with trying to regain some property rights and freedoms which have been stripped away from us. It may not have mattered to many but it mattered – wait until something you care about is stripped away from you.

  2. Meg Levinson

    God help us indeed, when our right to produce healthy food on our own property is denied us by HOA’S, Lobbyists and political cronyism.