Keep your hands off agriculture. That’s the message in a new bill from Arizona legislators. The goal of the proposed constitutional amendment is to restrict the state legislator and regular citizens from passing laws that regulate the agriculture industry.

Skeptics contend it also could exempt the industry from broader state laws such as a state minimum wage law or new environmental regulations.

Republican Sen. Jake Flake, introduced the proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1035, that prohibits any new laws or regulations that "limit or restrict the production of agricultural products" except in certain circumstances, including public health and safety and water use. Any new laws that do apply to agriculture could be enforced or adopted only by an unnamed state agency to be designated by the Legislature, unless lawmakers or citizens amend the state Constitution.

Flake and other supporters contend that agriculture is so complex, it shouldn't be regulated by people without a background in the subject. Despite the criticism, the measure made it through two Senate committees with bipartisan support and only minor changes. It is expected to be considered for preliminary approval by the Senate this week. If passed by the Legislature, the referendum would be placed on the November ballot.

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