gonzo-and-camilla-the-chicken2I really did not think this “meth lab of democracy” bill  sponsored by David Farnsworth (R-Mesa) (right) would ever get this far. ‘Constitutional’ chickens coming to a backyard near you.

But it has already cleared the Senate, and after yesterday’s vote in the House Government Committee, it needs only an affirmative vote of the full House before it goes to the Governor. Just wow.

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This a rare occasion on which Rep. John Kavanagh and I can agree on something. I know! But even a broken clock is right twice a day, am I right? House panel moves forward on poultry bill, members calls it a matter of ‘economic freedom’:

Calling it an issue of “economic freedom,” a House panel voted Tuesday to force cities to allow residents to have poultry, a move one foe said means the state will “shove it down the throats” of nearby residents who don’t want them.

SB 1151 would overrule existing or future city ordinances that prohibit poultry outright or impose most other restrictions on single-family lots.

Gone would be how large a lot is necessary to raise not only chickens but also geese and turkeys, and cities would not be able to tell someone how far a coop must be kept from a neighbor’s property.

That would leave cities only an ability to set a cap on the number of fowl and a ban on roosters and other males.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who said he raised chickens on a 10-acre farm when he lived in New Jersey, said there will be issues of noise and odor.

“This is not just about the right of people to have hens,” he said.

“This is about the right of their neighbors to enjoy the suburban or urban lifestyle which they’ve chosen,” Kavanagh continued. “This is not the Beverly Hillbillies.”

I think he meant Green Acres, but nevertheless, right on!

Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, who was a former city councilman, said there’s no reason for legislators to impose their will over what is decided locally by each community.

He said some public safety issues should be decided at a state level. For example, he cited laws which prohibit bars within a certain distance from public schools.

“Something like this, I think it’s wrong to shove it down their throats and say, ‘You cannot do this,’” he said.

Many Arizona cities have restrictions of some form.

Small government conservatives pay lip service to the idea that “local government is the best government.” But these bird-brained legislators believe “Big Brother” (or is that Big Chicken?) has the right to void all local zoning and health care ordinances in favor of ideological nuttiness like this:

Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, said the legislation “is about a lot more than chickens.”

“The United States has now fallen out of the Top 10 in the world for economic freedom,” he said. “And one of the biggest reasons is for the loss of property rights.”

His superior property rights to those of his neighbors, who apparently are to have his bird-brained idea “shoved down their throats.”

The Sierra Vista Herald editorializes today, Our View: Failing common sense:

If SB1151 becomes law in Arizona, the City of Sierra Vista would have to revise any local ordinance that bans raising chickens or other fowl on a detached single-family home property.

The argument supporting this bill offers an excellent insight into the problems created when political philosophy is more important than common sense.

To state lawmakers behind SB1151, this is an argument about economic freedom, and has little to do with chickens, turkeys, geese or other fowl that would be allowed in your neighbor’s backyard.

Just ask Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, who told his fellow lawmakers that the United States has “fallen out of the top 10 in the world for economic freedom,” and the biggest reason for that disgrace is the loss of property rights.

The source of Petersen’s “fact,” wasn’t available, but the idea that allowing backyard chickens is vital in preserving America’s economic freedom is laughable.

One of the primary reasons cities impose restrictions on animal husbandry — fowl or otherwise — is to reduce health risks. Touching chicken manure, for example, can spread the deadly salmonella bacteria, according to studies cited by the national Centers for Disease Control. In 2012, a salmonella outbreak among 195 people in 27 states is believed to have started when many of those who became sick had contact with live chickens, and many had purchased the birds from an Ohio mail-order hatchery for backyard flocks.

We have to believe that when cities — including Sierra Vista — studied whether it was a good idea to ban raising fowl within the city limits, the concern was first and foremost about health.

State lawmakers are not protecting property rights or assuring economic freedom with their inane support for SB1151, they are creating a health hazard.

This seems to have been completely lost in the discussion.

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