"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."
~ Thomas Jefferson
April 25, 2014
Dear Conservation Friends,
Howling wolf pup
credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service
The Legislature wrapped up early Thursday morning after being in session 101 days and passing 303 bills. I am happy to report that out of the 303 bills, three of the bills that we opposed were vetoed by Governor Brewer, two were defeated in the Senate, and several died because they did not advance to a final vote in one house or the other. We also were able to help get a couple of bills amended to address our concerns. Thank you all for clicking link after link, making calls, attending lobby workshops, attending Environmental Day at the Capitol, and more. You really do make a difference. Here's how.
Governor Brewer vetoed both of the bad wolf bills that reached her desk -- SB1211 Mexican wolf; taking; reporting (Griffin, Burges, D. Farnsworth, et al.) and HB2699 endangered species programs; rescission; reimbursement (Thorpe, Stevens: Gowan, et al.), both of which had provisions to hinder, not help, wolf recovery.
Please thank Governor Brewer for vetoing both big bad bills about wolves.
HB2343 Now: forest health management (Barton, Thorpe, Crandell) passed without the terrible 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" on State Trust Lands rather than restoration. Still, it is better than it would have been without your efforts and at least should do no harm.
White Canyon Wilderness
credit: Sandy Bahr
HB2541 federal land; emergency access (Townsend, Allen, Borrelli, et al.) was vetoed by Governor Brewer last week. 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."
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 required compensation from the federal government. It was yet another unconstitutional measure and attempted land grab.
HCR2018 funding ballot measures; reauthorization (Boyer, Thorpe: Allen, et al.) died in the Senate Rules Committee where it was never heard. HCR2018 referred to the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required certain ballot measures that have an expenditure of state monies associated with them to be referred back to the ballot every eight years. It was another measure to make it harder to pass citizen initiatives. Earlier in the session, a nearly identical bill, SCR1003 initiatives; referendum measures; periodic reauthorization (Crandell, Ward, Kwasman, et al.) was defeated in the Senate 15-14-1.
SB1227 municipalities; counties; energy efficient codes (Crandell) never came to the Floor of the Senate and was not attached to another bill, so it died for this session. SB1227 prohibited cities, towns, and counties from adopting any mandatory energy efficiency, energy conservation, or green building codes, stipulations, or ordinances – all or in part. This bill would have significantly hindered local efforts to reduce electricity and water use and to save taxpayers’ dollars.
SB1293 publicity pamphlets; disclosure (Griffin) went to conference committee where legislators stripped out a provision that would have required any campaign literature and the publicity pamphlet to contain inaccurate and misleading language about ballot measures, including that a ballot measure can "never be changed in the future except." The language was intended to discourage citizen initiatives, not to better inform voters. A similar measure, HB2014 never passed out of the Senate Rules Committee.
Lost Dutchman State Park
SB1301 2014 tax corrections (Yarbrough) was amended to remove the solar tax provisions. The bill contained a number of corrections and clarifications, but also contained a new tax on property owners who lease solar modules. Luckily, this was removed before the bill was voted out. Unfortunately, the Department of Revenue is still planning to tax these systems and the bill to fix that did not advance.
SB1326 state parks; donations; fund; transportation (Shooter, Dalessandro, Hobbs, et al.) passed the Senate 28-1-1 and the House 57-3 and was signed by Governor Brewer. 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. It will help parks a bit and they could use all the help they can get.
There was a bit of bad news as the session wrapped up. SB1344 contribution limits; clean elections authority (Pierce: Biggs) passed out of the House 36-23-1 and the Senate 16-12-2. It is on the Governor's desk. Please ask her to veto it. SB1344 limits the Clean Elections Commission's authority to take an enforcement action against candidates who are violating our campaign finance laws. This is contrary to the intent of the Citizens Clean Elections Act enacted by the voters and really to common sense. Clean Elections was supported by voters to limit the influence of money on politics. How can that happen without enforcement?
Please call Governor Brewer and ask her to VETO SB1344. You can contact Governor Brewer by calling her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883.
Mesquite tree at the Capitol for Arbor Day
credit: Sandy Bahr
Legislators also passed a bill to allow more unregulated and irresponsible development, about the last thing Arizona needs. SB1215 Now: unsubdivided land; definition(Griffin) passed the Senate 25-2-3 and the House 36-21-3 and was signed by Governor Brewer. It will open up even more areas of our state to unsustainable development and additional wildcat subdivisions, plus stress water resources in Cochise County and further harm the San Pedro River. Our land use regulations are already weak; we didn't need this new loophole.
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 and was signed by Governor Brewer. It contained 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 concerned us the most, however, was 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.
HB2523 projects; water supply development (Barton, Thorpe, Tobin, et al.) was amended to allow the state, counties, and cities to accept out-of-state "special waste." It passed the Senate 22-1-7 and the House 36-18-6 and was signed by Governor Brewer. 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 was needed. It was inserted in a sneaky last minute floor amendment.
In addition to passing three bad bills above, legislators also passed several anti-environmental resolutions, including the following:
- SCM1001 Yuma desalting plant (Griffin, Gowan, Stevens, et al.) is a memorial (message) to Congress and the President asking that the US Department of Interior take all necessary steps to operate the Yuma Desalting Plant.
- SR1003 EPA; nullification of rules (Burges, Crandell, D. Farnsworth, et al. ) states that the Senate supports nullifying all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules.
- SCR1006 Mexican wolf; population rule (Griffin) is a resolution 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.
- 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.
Look for an email with a link to our Environmental Report Card on Legislators and the Governor in a couple of weeks. After that, we will send only periodic emails to this list until next session. If you have a question on any issues in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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Thank you again for caring about planet Earth and all of its creatures!
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter