A bipartisan team of California state senators introduced legislation Monday that would prohibit the state and its localities from providing “material support” to the National Security Agency.
If the bill becomes law, it would deny NSA facilities access to water and electricity from public utilities, impose sanctions on companies trying to fill the resulting void and outlaw NSA research partnerships with state universities.
Companies with state contracts also would be banned from working with the NSA.
“I agree with the NSA that the world is a dangerous place,” state Sen. Ted Lieu, the bill’s Democratic co-author, said in a statement. “That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government.”
Lieu said the NSA’s surveillance programs pose “a clear and present danger to our liberties.”
“The last time the federal government massively violated the U.S. Constitution,” he said, “over 100,000 innocent Americans were rounded up and interned.”
State Sen. Joel Anderson, a Republican, is Lieu’s co-author. The California state senate has 40 members.
“I support this bill because I support the Constitution, our Fourth Amendment rights and our freedoms to live in the United States of America,” Anderson said.
The bill’s intent is largely symbolic. Universities might be affected, but the NSA does not currently operate a large data facility in the state.
A similar bill was introduced in Arizona by state Sen. Kelli Ward, a Republican, in December. Warddescribed her bill as a preventive strike and a way “to back our neighbors [in Utah] up.”
The OffNow coalition of advocacy groups is urging Utah lawmakers to pass their own version of the legislation to override the city of Bluffdale’s water contract with the NSA’s $1.5 billion Utah Data Center. No legislator has publicly announced they will sponsor the bill.