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Know the West

Governor overrules voters

  Voters in Arizona may have trounced a takings initiative last election but Republican Gov. Fife Symington isn't listening. In his state-of-the-state address, Symington promised to issue an executive order ensuring compensation for any property owner whose land use becomes limited by government regulations. "Every executive agency in state government will be ordered to respect private-property rights, and those who don't) will be relieved of their job," he said. Although Symington has yet to lay out the details of his plan, southwest Sierra Club director Rob Smith calls the governor's announcement a "slap in the face of Arizona voters." Last November, 60 percent of those voting rejected Proposition 300, a private-property takings initiative (HCN, 11/28/94). In all, 28 of Arizona's 30 legislative districts voted against the measure, including the home district of the bill's sponsor. An executive order cannot change existing law, but "takings' opponents fear Symington's measure would intimidate state employees who enforce environmental laws. Smith says he expects citizens to organize a counter-initiative if Symington prevails. The governor's office did not return HCN's calls.