April 18, 2014
The Legislature did not wrap up its session this week as was expected and will go at least into next week. Tuesday, Earth Day, will be the 100th day of the session. We are hoping they will give the Earth a break and adjourn sine die (Latin for "without day"). There is little good that can come of extending this session as already there are many last minute bad amendments being tacked on to unrelated bills. Amid all of that and the bills to harm wolves and the land, there was a little good news, however.
HB2700 federal acquisition; state lands; monitoring (Thorpe) was defeated in the Senate 14-15-1. It would have required the State Land Department to identify which state trust lands have been transferred to the federal government since statehood and then to require compensation from the federal government. It was yet another unconstitutional measure and attempted land grab. Please thank senators who opposed this bill.
There was no good news for Mexican gray wolves at the Arizona Legislature this week. Legislators passed a resolution asking that wolves be recovered in Mexico rather than Arizona -- SCR1006 Mexican wolf; population rule (Griffin) -- and also passed two bills aimed at hindering recovery of this highly endangered animal -- SB1211 Mexican wolf; taking; reporting (Griffin, Burges, D. Farnsworth, et al.) and HB2699 endangered species programs; rescission; reimbursement (Thorpe, Stevens: Gowan, et al.).
You can also contact Governor Brewer by calling her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883.
Likewise, the news was bad for the Arizona Water Protection Fund and for our mesquite bosques. SB1478 water protection fund; mesquite; tamarisk (Griffin) passed the Senate 18-11-1 and the House 47-13. It contains an unrelated amendment on long-term storage credits for water, which made this bill much harder to stop as it was being promoted by the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Salt River Project, and the usual water buffaloes. The portion of the bill that concerns us the most, however, is the portion that prohibits the Arizona Water Protection Fund from being used to plant mesquite and also promotes the removal of those same trees. Mesquite are native to Arizona and mesquite bosque provide important habitat for wildlife, especially a diversity of birds. The focus should be on the restoration of riparian areas, not on the removal of vegetation.
Legislators passed a bill to allow more unregulated and irresponsible development, about the last thing Arizona needs. SB1215 Now: unsubdivided land; definition(Griffin) will open up even more areas of our state to unsustainable development and additional wildcat subdivisions, plus stress water resources in places such as Cochise County and further harm the San Pedro River. Our land use regulations are already weak; we don't need is another loophole or exception. SB1215 passed the Senate 25-2-3 and the House 36-21-3.
HCR2018 funding ballot measures; reauthorization (Boyer, Thorpe: Allen, et al.) is still alive in the Senate. 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.
To find out more about the bills we are tracking, click on Legislative Tracker. There will be more conference committees next week, but they are usually posted at the last minute, so there is really no way for the public to participate.
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There is also another way to register your support or opposition to bills going through the legislative process. It is www.azvoices.gov. Check it out and let us know what you think of it.
Have a happy Earth Day on Tuesday and thank you again for caring and for taking action to protect Arizona's environment!
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter
|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.|