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  "We listened for a voice crying in the wilderness. And we heard the jubilation of wolves!"
~ Durwood L. Allen
 

March 21, 2014

Dear Conservation Friends,

White Canyon Wilderness (By Sandy Bahr)
           credit: Sandy Bahr

The Arizona Legislature continued its assault on environmental protection and good public policy this past week, but first, let me start with a little good news.

Good News: Thanks to the strong opposition by many, the proposed game and fish; operations; maintenance strike-everything amendment on HB2127 was removed from the Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee agenda after Game and Fish decided not to pursue it. The amendment would have diverted important habitat dollars that help to protect some of our states most imperiled wildlife species. It appears the struggle to keep those dollars intact is over, but only for the legislative session. This will be back.

 SB1227 municipalities; counties; energy efficient codes (Crandell) did not come up for a Third Read, so it is dead in its current form. This bill would hinder local efforts to reduce electricity and water use and save taxpayers' dollars. There was a strike-everything amendment on SB1133 building code moratorium; repeal (Griffin) in the House Government Committee that would have limited cities' and towns' ability to implement new energy efficient codes, but that was held. Still, a version of this bill could show up as an amendment or in the Appropriations Committees next week, so we will be watching closely. Thanks to everyone who has been speaking up on this.

It also looks like  SB1402 renewable energy; definition (Melvin) is dead. This bill defines renewable energy to include nuclear power.

A bill to clarify how leased solar modules are valued relative to property taxes did advance, but it remains to be seen how the larger senate will address it. If passed, it will keep property taxes of people with leased solar panels from going up significantly. Likewise, a bill that allows Tesla and other electric vehicle manufacturers to sell the vehicles without going through a dealer also advanced. This was brought forward because Tesla is considering locating a battery manufacturing facility in Arizona.

SCR1003 initiatives; referendum measures; periodic reauthorization 
(Crandell, Ward, Kwasman, et al.) failed a second time on the Senate floor, but the similar house measure is still alive. See below for details. It requires certain ballot measures to be referred back to the ballot every eight years.

Budget:  The Senate proposed and passed a budget this week. It contains little to help environmental programs and continues to divert funds from the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund, dollars that are supposed to clean up contaminated land and water. It does not adequately fund Arizona State Parks, and the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality are pretty much status quo. There is a little extra in the budget for the State Land Department and it appears that they plan to fund some fire-related programs for State Trust Lands. It remains to be seen as to whether these will do more harm than good though. The Senate President said he had agreement from the Governor and the House majority to support this budget package, but both have said "not so fast." 


Bad News:  All of the anti-wolf measures are alive, as is the bill to promote elimination of mesquite, and several anti-citizen initiatives measures.
 

STOP THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE'S ATTACK ON ENDANGERED WOLVES!

Mexican gray wolf (By Erin and Lance Willett)
        credit: Lance Willett
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. 

There are three bills attacking wolf recovery in the House.

Take Action!

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

These attacks on wolves and this renewed effort to eliminate them from the wildlands of Arizona and New Mexico make it clearer than ever that we need a strong and well-enforced Endangered Species Act. Here is another bill attacking wolf recovery in the Senate.

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




 PROTECT ARIZONA'S WATERSHEDS!

San Pedro Riparian NCA by Sandy Bahr
     credit:  Sandy Bahr

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. 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.

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




STOP THE ASS
AULT ON OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!
 

HB2014 ballot measures; proposition 105 disclosure (Ugenti) passed out of the Senate Government and Environment Committee today (Friday). It requires that any campaign literature and the publicity pamphlet (they removed the requirement that the ballot include it) contain language that says the measure can "never be changed in the future" except via a three-fourths vote of the legislature that furthers the purpose or by referral to the ballot. There are several inaccuracies in this brief statement, including that the measure can be changed by referring the change to the ballot. Referring a measure to the ballot changes nothing. The change must be APPROVED BY THE VOTERS. Using the word "never" is also misleading as a measure can clearly be changed under the conditions mentioned. HB2014 will not better inform voters, but is clearly intended to confuse, erect additional impediments, and to discourage citizen initiatives.

Take Action!
Ask Senators to oppose this attack on citizen initiatives.

petition boxes by Sandy Bahr
        credit: Sandy Bahr

HCR2018 funding ballot measures; reauthorization (Boyer, Thorpe: Allen, et al.) is still alive in the Senate. It is similar to SCR1003 mentioned above. Will they try a third time? Quite possibly, so we need to keep up the pressure. HCR2018 refers 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.

 

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

 



To find out more about the bills we are tracking, click on Legislative Tracker. Below are the committee agendas for this week. Most committees are finished with hearing bills and are only doing executive nominations. The Appropriations Committees will continue to hear bills.

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 24th

House Committee on Appropriations at 9:30 A.M. in House Hearing Room 1

  • All of the House Budget Bills HB2703 through HB2711

Senate Committee on Transportation at 1:00 P.M. in Senate Hearing Room 3

  • Executive Nomination
    • Claude Mattox - Citizens Transportation Oversight Committee

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

  • Executive Nominations
    • William Allen - Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission
    • Russell Jones - Arizona Power Authority Commission
    • Warde Nichols - Governor's Regulatory Review Council
    • Shaine Alleman - Urban Land Planning Oversight Committee
    • Michael Lacey - Director, Department of Water Resources
Citizen Lobby/Advocacy Workshop
March 24, 2014
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Boulder Creek High School
Mini Auditorium
40404 N. Gavilan Peak Pkwy. (map)
New River, AZ  85086

RSVP to Sandy Bahr at sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org.
 

 








Tuesday, March 25th


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

Senate Committee on Appropriations at 2:00 P.M. in Senate Hearing Room 109
  • HB2343 NOW: forest health management (Barton, Thorpe: Crandell) was amended in the Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee and the most egregious aspects were removed. It is still not a great bill as it focuses more on vegetation removal and fire suppression and less on ecological restoration. 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. 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.
Wednesday, March 26th
  
House Committee on Appropriations at 2:00 P.M. in House Hearing Room 1
  • 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. This is a bill that is being advanced to benefit Apple and likely has enough safeguards in it to prevent it from being abused. Tax credits have great potential for abuse, if the programs are not crafted carefully with proper safeguards in place.MONITOR.
 

 
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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