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  "How lonely is the night without the howl of a wolf."
~ Unknown
 

March 14, 2014

Dear Conservation Friends,

Wolf cut out
       credit: Nathan Renn

The Arizona Legislature has its own version of "March Madness" . . . well really it is just insanity and it lasts at least until the end of April. This week, the foolish and harmful wolf bills from the Senate passed out of the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee and will likely go to the House Floor next week. The House also sent an equally bad and outrageous wolf bill across the way to the Senate. The attacks on riparian areas and mesquite trees continued as SB1478 was voted out of committee with no opposition, primarily because the committee tacked on an unrelated amendment on water banking. The only relationship between the various aspects of the bill is that they relate to water.

On Wednesday, there was a strike-everything amendment posted to take all of the Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Fund land acquisition dollars and direct it to operation and maintenance. What is especially sad about this bill is it was prompted by the agency itself. We have already lost the State Parks Heritage Fund, it looks like Game and Fish wants to sacrifice a large portion of what is remaining. The bill was held, but is back on the agenda for next Wednesday.
 

STOP THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE'S WAR ON ENDANGERED WOLVES!

SB1211 Mexican wolf; taking; reporting (Griffin, Burges, D. Farnsworth, et al.) permits an employee of the Arizona Department of Agriculture to kill any wolf that has killed or is killing livestock, if there is an agreement between the agency and US Fish and Wildlife to that effect. It also authorizes the livestock industry to kill wolves under additional conditions.
SB1212 appropriation; wolf recovery; litigation costs (Griffin, Burges, Crandell, et al.) appropriates $250,000 for state litigation to impede federal efforts to recover Mexican wolves.
SCR1006 Mexican wolf; population rule (Griffin) is a resolution – a message – that contains inaccurate information and inflammatory language on wolves. It states that the legislature opposes additional introductions in Arizona and New Mexico, unless it is determined the wolves cannot be introduced in northern Mexico, and it says the legislature supports killing wolves that have harassed or killed livestock, pets, or people. Including people on the list with livestock and pets is a bit over the top. Wolves are not harassing, harming, or killing people.

We need to increase the pressure on legislators to stop these harmful bills that target wolves -- and I do mean target. Please speak up, even if you have done so already, and share these alerts with friends and family.

Take Action!

Ask Representatives to oppose all three anti-wolf bills and to instead support recovery of endangered wolves.
 

Not to be outdone by Senator Griffin, Representative Bob Thorpe has his own anti-wolf measure. It started out as an attack on all imperiled wildlife, but was amended on the Floor to include only wolves

Mexican gray wolf (Courtesy of the USFWS)
  credit:  USFWS

HB2699 endangered species programs; rescission; reimbursement (Thorpe, Stevens: Gowan, et al.) refers to wolves as "varmints" and makes numerous inaccurate claims about these endangered animals, plus directs the Arizona attorney general to take all necessary steps to get money from the federal government to reimburse the livestock industry for any losses or "diminution in value" of property due to Mexican gray wolves. It goes on to say that if the federal government does not enter into land use agreements to pay people for any real or perceived losses within six months of the bill becoming law, then the Legislature will consider enacting legislation to prohibit Arizona's continued participation in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and require that the federal government remove all wolves from state or private land. It treats wolves as if they did not belong in Arizona.

Bills such as HB2699 and the other anti wolf measures above, make the clear case on why we need a strong and well-enforced Endangered Species Act.

Take Action!
Ask your Senator to vote "NO" on yet another bill to hinder recovery of highly endangered Mexican wolves.


SPEAK UP TO PROTECT THE HERITAGE FUND!

Rainbow in Tucson desert (Photo by Michael Smith)
   credit:  Michael Smith

Please ask senators on the Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee to oppose the proposed game and fish; operations; maintenance strike-everything amendment on HB2127. It will divert important habitat dollars that help to protect some of our states most imperiled wildlife species.

This proposed strike-everything amendment would allow all of the Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Fund acquisition dollars to be used for operation and maintenance of the acquired properties. This is a blank check of up to $2.4 million, to Game and Fish for operation and maintenance and could result in no funding for protection of habitat. This is contrary to the intent of the Heritage Fund and certainly contrary to good public policy.


Take Action!
Ask Senators to Oppose this raid on habitat protection dollars!

 

Remember, you can use the "Request to Speak" system to register your opposition to this bill as it is still in Committee. If you have set up an account, please do sign in against this bill. If you have not set up an account, but would like to, just send me a note with your name, email address, and a password, and I will get you signed up.  It would be great to get 20 people signed in against this bill as well as others listed below.
 

PROTECT RIPARIAN AREAS - OPPOSE MESQUITE BOSQUE ERADICATION!

SB1478 water protection fund; mesquite; tamarisk (Griffin) prohibits the Arizona Water Protection Fund from being used to plant mesquite, tamarisk, or other non-native high water use trees and also promotes the removal of those same trees. It goes on to establish a “watershed improvement program.” The bill has major issues. First of all, mesquite are native and mesquite bosque provide important habitat for wildlife, especially a diversity of birds. Second, the focus should be on the restoration of riparian areas, not on the removal of vegetation. We would like to see this bill limit removal of vegetation to non-native invasive plants such as buffelgrass or trees such as tamarisk.

Unfortunately, this bill was amended to add some water banking provisions, so it has a bunch of support from the water buffalo contingent -- Arizona Department of Water Resources, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, various mining interests, agricultural interests, etc. That means it will be hard to stop.

Take Action!
As your Representatives to Vote NO on SB1478 and to instead protect our waters and watersheds.

STOP THE ASSAULT ON OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!

petition boxes by Sandy Bahr
        credit: Sandy Bahr

HCR2018 funding ballot measures; reauthorization (Boyer, Thorpe: Allen, et al.) and SCR1003 initiatives; referendum measures; periodic reauthorization (Crandell, Ward, Kwasman, et al.) are both in the Senate. The latter bill failed on the floor, but will be brought back for reconsideration. Both measures refer to the ballot proposed constitutional amendment that require certain ballot measures that have an expenditure of state monies associated with them to be referred back to the ballot every eight years.

The Arizona Legislature can refer individual measures to the ballot any time it can get the necessary votes, so this measure is unnecessary. If legislators think a measure should go back to the ballot, they merely need 31 votes in the House and 16 votes in the Senate to send it there.

This is a blatant attempt to weaken our rights to citizen initiatives as it would be very difficult to raise enough money and develop a campaign around the same issue every eight years.

 Please contact senators and ask them to vote no on both or either of these bills.

Take Action!
Please ask your Senator to oppose weakening citizen initiatives in the constitution and vote no on HCR2018 and SCR1003.

 



To find out more about the bills we are tracking, click on Legislative Tracker. Below are the committee agendas for this week.

If you no longer want to receive these updates, just zap me an email or unsubscribe by clicking on "Manage Preferences" at the bottom of the message.

There is also another way to register your support or opposition to bills going through the legislative process. It is www.azvoices.gov. You can submit ideas for legislators to consider and also let them know how you feel about various bills. Anyone may open an account, but only registered Arizona voters can register opinions on bills. You will need either your driver's license or voter registration card to set up your account. Check it out and let us know what you think of it.

Thank you for all you do to make Arizona a better place and for looking out for the air, land, water, and wildlife!

Warm regards,
Sandy Bahr
Chapter Director
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter
(602) 253-8633
http://arizona.sierraclub.org

 

Coming Up This Week at the Legislature 

Monday, March 17th

Senate Committee on Government and Environment at 2:00 P.M. or when Floor adjourns in Senate Hearing Room 3

  • HB2442 air quality; begin actual construction (Gowan, Stevens, Thorpe, et al.) amends the definition of "begin actual construction" to include the initiation of a change in the method of operation of an emissions unit. Apparently, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved this change and it is in the rules, so the bill does not change much. MONITOR.
  • HB2523 projects; water supply development (Barton, Thorpe, Tobin, et al.) allows the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) dollars to be used outside of Active Management Areas, appropriates one million dollars to the Water Supply Development Revolving Fund, and requires WIFA to include watershed management or protection when determining the order and priority of projects. MONITOR.

House Committee on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources at 2:00 P.M. in House Hearing Room 4.

  • SB1292 Arizona resource advisory council (Griffin) establishes this council to advise the state regarding the planning and management of federal land resources. It includes a long list of interests that must be represented on the council, including timber, mining, energy development, archaeology, and possibly environmental. MONITOR
  • SB1333 air quality studies; counties; associations (Shooter) includes numerous other entities that are authorized to help the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) with research. Somebody must need a contract. MONITOR.
  • SB1484 tax credit; manufacturers; renewable energy (Worsley, Pierce: McComish) creates individual and corporate tax credits for investment in new renewable energy facilities that produce energy primarily for manufacturing. We may be able to support this, although the biomass provisions could be better, but want to know a little more about it. Tax credits have great potential for abuse, if the programs are not crafted carefully with proper safeguards in place. MONITOR.
  • SCR1007 wildfires; forest management (Griffin: Otondo) is a resolution that includes a great deal of misinformation about forests, including blaming environmentalists for large fires. OPPOSE. 
  • SCR1022 rulemaking; electric generating units; opposition (Griffin, Burges, Shooter, et al.) asks Congress to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing carbon standards for power plants. OPPOSE.

House Committee on Ways and Means at 2:00 P.M. in House Hearing Room 1 

Tuesday, March 18th

Both the House and Senate will likely meet in caucuses at 9am or 10am.

Senate Committee on Elections at 2:00 P.M. in Senate Hearing Room 1

  • HB2407 NOW: electronic filing; contributions; expenditures (Stevens: Gowan, Griffin) will have a strike everything amendment on renewable energy devices; ownership: valuation. The striker is not posted, but I expect it has to do with how leased solar rooftop systems are valued relative to property taxes. 
  • HB2665 campaign finance; election; candidate committees (Mesnard) allows candidates' unexpended or unencumbered primary election account contributions to be transferred to the general election account, among other things. MONITOR.

House Committee on Agriculture and Water at 2:00 P.M. in House Hearing Room 5

  • SB1108 NOW: department of agriculture; fees (Shooter) allows the Director of the Department of Agriculture, with the assistance of the Agriculture Advisory Council, to increase the statutory pesticide registration fee. MONITOR.
House Committee on Government at 2:00 P.M. in House Hearing Room 4
  • SB1133 building code moratorium; repeal (Griffin) has a strike everything on energy code moratorium. The striker is not yet posted, but it will surely be a problem.
  • SB1215 Now: unsubdivided land; definition (Griffin) will open up even more areas of our state to unsustainable development and additional wildcat subdivisions. The bill changes the definition of unsubdivided lands to include any land that is sold that constitutes the sixth lot from a particular parcel, if the sale occurs at least 10 years after the earliest of the previous five sales, and if all the sales are from the same lot and the original parcel was 36 acres or more and less than 160 acres. OPPOSE.
Senate Committee on Appropriations at 2:00 P.M. in Senate Hearing Room 109
  • HB2343 NOW: forest health management (Barton, Thorpe: Crandell) could be used for ecological restoration, but as drafted could also merely focus on removing vegetation. Focusing on vegetation removal in areas where invasive plants such as buffelgrass have created unnatural fire regimes is appropriate. Vegetation removal alone in areas such as in a ponderosa pine forest or in one of our state’s grassland areas would not. Fire in these areas is part of the natural processes that keep the lands, the watershed, healthy. The Legislature should incorporate ecological principals into this legislation. OPPOSE.
Senate Committee on Transportation at 2:00 P.M. in Senate Hearing Room 3
  • HB2226 vehicle emissions inspection program (Fann) makes numerous changes to the vehicle emissions inspection program, many of them technical. The changes must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to take effect. It prohibits the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality from issuing a certificate of waiver for any vehicle that has failed inspection due to the catalytic converter system. MONITOR.  
  • HB2430 combination vehicles; size; weight; load (Fann) relates to special permits for large, heavy trucks and increases the maximum weight.
  • HB2580 alternative fuel vehicles; registration; inspection (Pratt: Fann, Shope et al.) requires alternative fuel vehicles to undergo an emissions test in the sixth registration year, rather than the fourth registration year, among other things. It removes the requirement that fleet vehicles be inspected every year and allows the director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to adopt rules for the testing of fleet vehicles. MONITOR.
Wednesday, March 19th

Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs at 9:00 A.M. in Senate Hearing Room 109
Senate Committee on Public Safety at 2:00 P.M. in Senate Hearing Room 109 
  • HB2541 federal land; emergency access (Townsend, Allen, Borrelli, et al.) is another unconstitutional measure that will only result in more lawsuits and do nothing to solve any problems, real or perceived. The bill says the state or local government can access federal land in an “emergency” with whatever equipment they deem necessary. This is a thinly veiled attempt to get heavy equipment into wilderness and other sensitive lands under the guise of an "emergency." OPPOSE
  Thursday, March 20th

Senate Committee on Government and Environment at 2:00 P.M. or upon adjournment of the Floor in Senate Hearing Room 3
  • HB2528 municipalities; regulation; sign walkers (Petersen: Robson) pre-empts local zoning authority relative to sign walkers, even though it is a public safety and blight issue. This is back after a several year hiatus. OPPOSE.
  • There are likely to be more bills added to this agenda. 
 

 
To call your legislators, click on Member Roster and find their phone numbers. If you're outside the Phoenix area, you can call your legislators’ offices toll free at 1-800-352-8404. In the Phoenix area call (602) 926-3559 (Senate) or (602) 926-4221 (House) and ask to connect with your legislators.

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