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  "Every day is Earth Day."   

April 18, 2014

Dear Conservation Friends,

world in hands 

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.

HB2541 federal land; emergency access (Townsend, Allen, Borrelli, et al.) was vetoed by Governor Brewer yesterday. The bill was both unconstitutional and unwise and a thinly veiled attempt to get heavy equipment into wilderness and other sensitive lands under the guise of an "emergency."

Take Action!
Please thank Governor Brewer for vetoing HB2541!

You can also contact Governor Brewer by calling her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883.

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.

The Appropriations Committee strike-everything amendment on HB2343 Now: forest health management
was withdrawn, so the bill does not contain the immunity provisions. Unfortunately, legislators also did not adopt the forest restoration language, so the bill will likely have limited positive impact as it still focuses on removal of vegetation and "forest management" rather than restoration.

SB1326 state parks; donations; fund; transportation (Shooter, Dalessandro, Hobbs, et al.) passed the Senate 28-1-1 and the House 57-3. It provides for a state parks check-off space on the individual income tax return forms, so will generate a little revenue for parks. Unfortunately, the dollars are limited to infrastructure rather than protecting resources. Still, it will help parks a bit and they could use all the help they can get.

Mexican gray wolf (Courtesy of the USFWS)
  credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service

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.).

Please let Governor Brewer know that you support protecting and recovering wolves and other endangered wildlife. Ask her to veto the two  bills that seek to hinder protection and recovery of these endangered animals.

Take Action!

Ask Governor Brewer to veto anti-wolf bills.

You can also contact Governor Brewer by calling her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883.

San Pedro Riparian NCA by Sandy Bahr
  credit: Sandy Bahr

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.

Take Action!
Ask Governor Brewer to Veto SB1478 to protect our waters and watersheds.

You can also contact Governor Brewer by calling her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883.

Phoenix sprawl (Photo by Scott Sprague)
  credit: Scott Sprague

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.

Take Action!
Ask Governor Brewer to Veto SB1215 and to oppose more irresponsible development!

You can also contact Governor Brewer by calling her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883.

SB1293 publicity pamphlets; disclosure
(Griffin) requires that any campaign literature and the publicity pamphlet contain inaccurate and misleading language about ballot measures, including that a ballot measure can "never be changed in the future except." The language is intended to discourage citizen initiatives and will not better inform voters. It will instead confuse voters and erect additional impediments citizen initiatives. The bill is scheduled to go to conference committee.

Take Action!
Ask your Senator to oppose another attack on citizen initiatives and to oppose SB1293.

petition boxes by Sandy Bahr
  credit: Sandy Bahr

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.

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.

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

In other bad news, legislators added an amendment on to HB2523 projects; water supply development
(Barton, Thorpe, Tobin, et al.) that allows the state, counties, and cities to accept out-of-state "special waste." This means your local landfill can accept petroleum contaminated soils, shredded waste from plastics and metals, and more from surrounding states. Apparently, this bill was being promoted by La Paz County, because it wants to accept waste from California. What kind of liability is this for the county taxpayers and does it further risk water resources? There was no committee hearing on this provision, no discussion, and no case made for why it is needed. It was inserted in a sneaky last minute floor amendment. Why? What are the counties afraid of discussing regarding "special waste"?

We are keeping an eye on things for a possible last minute amendment to prohibit energy efficiency building codes. The Homebuilders of Central Arizona are still looking for a bill on which to attach that terrible amendment. Stay tuned. 

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.

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 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!

Warm regards,
Sandy Bahr
Chapter Director
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter
(602) 253-8633

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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