the floor debate about
a pending proposed
uniform law. There was
no staff to speak of, and no legislative
aides scurrying to and fro on the floor.
… The debates testified to the ability
of thoughtful practitioners, usually
without any expertise in the field under
study, to carefully analyze and discuss
the merits of a pending proposal. 8
Until recently, the Arizona Uniform
Law Commission was authorized by
statute. But in 2007, the Legislature
repealed the authorizing law and the
underlying legislative appropriation that
was used to cover dues and transportation
of commissioners to the annual meeting. 9
Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano stepped in to
re-establish the Arizona Commission by
executive order and reappointed the existing commissioners to a six-year term. 10
The Governor’s Office, however, has been
unable to provide funding for annual dues
owed by the Commission or for commissioners’ expenses. 11
One might wonder why Arizona needs
its own commission on uniform laws.
After all, the Legislature can always access
any uniform law on the ULC Web site or
at the law library. There are several reasons
why the state should have its own delegates to the ULC.
By virtue of their work, commissioners
are aware of proposed uniform laws and
can apprise the Legislature of new uniform
laws on a timely basis. If Arizona already
has a uniform law on the books, commissioners can make sure that the state
Legislature is aware of any amendments to
the law emerging from the
ULC. As a “consumer” of uniform laws, Arizona has been
quite active, having enacted
more than 90 uniform laws over
At its 2008 annual meeting in Big Sky,
Montana, the ULC considered a range of
proposals and approved one new act, the
Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act,
as well as amendments to five existing acts.
The 2008 amendments include important
revisions to the Uniform Interstate Family
Support Act, the Uniform Probate Code,
the Uniform Common Interest Ownership
Act, the Revised Uniform Unincorporated
Nonprofit Association Act and the Uniform
Principal and Income Act.
An additional advantage is
that Arizona commissioners can
represent interests important to
this state in the drafting of uniform laws. In other words,
Arizona’s membership in the
ULC enables commissioners to
put Arizona’s issues and concerns into the national drafting
process. Tim Berg, for example,
chairs the ULC Committee on
Liaison with American Indian
Tribes and Nations and was
centrally involved in drafting a
model act for tribes on secured
transactions. 12 The first tribe to
adopt the act was the Crow
Nation, and several Arizona-based tribes
also have taken an interest in this area.
Information on all of these acts,
including the approved text of each, as well
as organization activities and projects,
can be found at
Another example is the author’s work
on the amendments to the Uniform
Interstate Family Support Act to accommodate the recently adopted Hague
Convention on the International
Recovery of Child Support and Other
Forms of Family Maintenance. As a border
state, Arizona has faced the complexities
of international family support enforcement for many years. The amendments to
UIFSA provide an efficient procedure for
cooperation between child support
authorities across international borders.
ULC held its annual meeting at a resort in
Tucson. These meetings typically draw
250 to 300 people for a week of proceedings and social events. Such gatherings are
clearly a boost for local hotels and restaurants. Also, ULC drafting committee
meetings are held throughout the year,
and many such meetings have been held in
Arizona at the suggestion of local commissioners.
A side benefit of having a state com-
mission is purely economic. In 2005, the
The work of the ULC has been an
essential vehicle for law reform in areas
where national uniformity is needed.
Members of the Arizona Commission welcome your suggestions for future areas of
study, especially those in which Arizona
interests are prominent.
1. Timothy Berg, managing partner, Fennemore Craig; James Bush, retired
from Fennemore Craig after more than 50 years of practice; Roger
Henderson, emeritus professor of law and former dean, University of
Arizona College of Law; L. Gene Lemon, retired attorney and former in-house counsel to Dial Corporation; Edward Lowry, private practitioner and
former mayor of Paradise Valley; and the author, Barbara Atwood, a professor of law at the University of Arizona College of Law.
2. See WALTER P. ARMSTRONG, JR., A CENTURY OF SERVICE–A CENTENNIAL
HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF COMMISSIONERS ON UNIFORM
STATE LAWS 12 (West 1991).
3. For civil procedure buffs, an interesting link exists between the UCC and the
Erie doctrine. Justice Story, who wrote the opinion in Swift v. Tyson, 42 U.S.
1 (1846), holding that federal courts in diversity of citizenship cases could
formulate principles of general commercial law, was a strong believer in the
need for uniformity in the commercial world. When the Supreme Court in
Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 421 (1938), overturned Swift, the holding
left a vacuum that was soon filled by the Uniform Commercial Code.
4. The UCC was a collaborative project with the American Law Institute. The
reporters, well-known scholars Karl Llewellyn and Soia Mentshikoff, later
married, perhaps the only romance to have been engendered by the
Conference. ARMSTRONG, supra note 2, at 76.
5. The UCCJA was replaced by the more comprehensive Uniform Child
Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act in 1997. At present, 47 states
and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted the UCCJEA.
6. A complete listing of Arizona commissioners from 1900 to 1990 can be
found in ARMSTRONG, supra note 2, at 180 (Appendix F).
7. Id. at 153 (Appendix A).
8. Id. at 1 (Foreword).
9. H.B. 2785, Ariz. House of Representatives, 48th Leg., 1st Sess. (2007)
(repealing A. R. S. §§ 41-1306, 41-1307, and 41-3010.11).
10. Executive Order 2007-16 (establishing the Arizona Uniform State Laws
11. At present, Commissioners are responsible for their own costs in attending
the annual meeting. The ULC dues owing from the Arizona Commission,
totaling approximately $37,000 annually, have gone unpaid since the
repeal of the legislative appropriation.
12. See Tim Berg, Growing Indian Economies: The Model Tribal Secured
Transactions Act, ARIZ. ATT’Y, March 2006, at 30.