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AZ revives legislation demanding control of US lands

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PHOENIX - Arizona may join Utah in demanding that the federal government surrender control of millions of acres of public land to the state.

Arizona legislation that appeared dead a month ago was approved Monday by the state House.

Supporters of the legislation say the states would be a better manager of resources such as timber and minerals on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Critics call the legislation an embarrassment and say it could open the door to easing environmental protections for public land.

The House's 35-15 vote sends the bill to the Senate. That chamber already approved an earlier version.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed similar legislation last month.

The original Arizona bill was sidelined last month after the House Rules Committee voted that it was unconstitutional. That comittee's judgment was set aside when the full House changed several provisionsl.

In a key change, the bill's provision requiring the federal government to surrender control of public land was changed to a demand that Washington do so. However, supporters acknowledged there's little chance of that happening.

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