Dear Conservation Friends,
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
credit: S. Bahr
Hooray! The 51st Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die at 12:59 a.m. this morning, after 151 days in session. That means we can all exhale for about six months and know that they can do no further damage to our environmental laws.
In the waning hours of the session, the majority pushed through a very bad elections bill. See details below. The good news is that they did not bring the terrible energy efficiency bill to the floor -- that means local governments can continue to adopt more efficient building codes. The City of Chandler did so yesterday and Gilbert and Maricopa County will be considering the efficient codes in the coming weeks. Many communities -- Tucson, Pima County, Avondale, Glendale, Oro Valley, and more -- have adopted the more efficient codes already.
The budget was passed in an unprecedented special session in that the Speaker and Senate President were irrelevant to the budget agreement, which was passed by nine Republicans and all the Democrats in the House and all the Democrats in the Senate, plus five or six Republicans, depending on the bill. There was nothing all that great in the budget for environmental protection, but mostly no harm was done. There was some additional funding for the arts and parks and they did include a provision to keep State Parks around for another 10 years.
HB2305 initiatives; filings: circulators (Farnsworth) passed out of the House and Senate and is on the Governor's desk. It was an ugly thing to watch as on the first vote Senator Steve Pierce held fast on voting no and defeating the bill and then after getting the word from Republican leaders and the Governor's office, he flipped to support the bill, which meant it passed. The current Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, and several people who have expressed that they will likely run for this office, supported the bill. Senator Michele Reagan, Representative Andy Tobin, and Representative Steve Montenegro all voted for the bill. Why would anyone want a Secretary of State, the leading elections official in our state, who supports suppressing votes and limiting constitutional rights relative to ballot measures?
If enacted, HB2305 will suppress voting and make it more difficult to get a citizen initiative on the ballot. It requires that petitions filed for an initiative be organized by county,
circulator, and notary. Because it also requires "strict compliance" it would mean these signatures could be disqualified merely because they were out of order. The same goes for other technical issues. The bill also makes it more difficult for people to be included on the Permanent Early
Voting List and more difficult to stay on that list once they are added. It seeks to discourage people from delivering early ballots as well.
Please ask Governor Brewer to veto HB2305.
credit: Scott Jones
HB2551 NOW: off-highway vehicles; use; authority; enforcement (Gowan) was transmitted to the Governor. While it is a long-shot, please do ask her for a veto. HB2551 was pushed through the Legislature by Arizona Game and Fish, an agency plagued by scandals, especially relative to large carnivores such as jaguars, mountain lions, and wolves; its inability to follow its own hunting rules; and commissioners that are so out of touch and unaccountable that they actually rewarded a commissioner who had to resign due to allegations of sexual harassment by buying him a lifetime hunting license. Seriously.
Should we really be sanctioning ignoring the law or in this case ignoring harm to plants, animals, and public safety? HB2551 will promote lawlessness by off-highway vehicles (OHVs). It says law enforcement can ignore damage to wildlife habitat from OHVs and do no OHV enforcement on federal public lands that have been closed to OHVs. Unmanaged OHV use significantly harms wildlife, wildlife habitat, and cultural sites. This bill is just plain irresponsible.
Please ask Governor Brewer to Veto HB2551.
credit: City of Phoenix
HB2404 NOW: building codes; energy efficiency (Carter) was never brought to the Floor for a Final Read in the House, which means it is dead for the session. Due to solid opposition from the Democratic Caucus and a core group of Republicans, the votes were not there to get it passed. Thank you to all of you and everyone else who helped make sure that our cities and towns can continue to adopt the most energy efficient building codes and help us all save energy, money, and water.
HB2404 prohibited local government from adopting more energy efficient building codes, which is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce energy use and save ratepayers money. The bill was being pushed by the Homebuilders of Central Arizona and supported by Arizona Public Service (APS).
For more information on some of the bills we were tracking, look below or you can view our Legislative Tracker.
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. During the interim, I will likely send out a few messages on local actions and bills in Congress, but will not overwhelm you with messages. Look for the Environmental Report Card on the Arizona Legislature and Governor in the coming weeks and weekly updates to resume in January 2014.
Thank you for speaking up, sending messages, taking action, and most of all, for caring!
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter
Quick Bill Updates
SB1261 permanent early voting lists; amendments (Reagan, Driggs: Worsley) allowed the county recorder to notice and remove people who are on the Permanent Early Voting List who did not vote early in the last two elections and if they do not respond in writing and ask to stay on the list. This along with other bills seems to be intended to deter higher voter turnout. OPPOSE.This got added to HB2305, which passed.
SB1263 paid circulators; statewide measures; recall (Reagan: Driggs) required that all paid circulators be registered with the Secretary of State for statewide measures and candidates -- not legislative candidates, however. This was part of a concerted effort to make it next to impossible to get any measure on the ballot, especially if this bill passed in conjunction with the other measures being considered. OPPOSE. It was never brought to the floor for action in the House Committee of the Whole, so died for the session. Watch for it to return next session.
SB1264 initiative, referendum and recall(Reagan) erected additional impediments to the initiative and referendum process by providing more reasons and more opportunities for signatures to be thrown out for merely technical reasons. It required that every blank on a petition sheet have a line through it or be marked NA. The courts have generally deferred to the people relative to getting a measure on the ballot. OPPOSE. It never came to the House Floor for Committee of the Whole, so died, for the session.
SB1288 Arizona water protection fund; projects (Griffin, Burges, Gowan, et al.) prohibits federal agencies from receiving funding through the Arizona Water Protection Fund, which would limit projects on federal public lands and tribal lands. It also modified the board that allocates these dollars and gives total control to agricultural interests. It passed out of the Senate 17-11-2 and the House 35-24-1. OPPOSE. It has been transmitted to the Governor.
SCR1006 initiative petitions; filing date (Reagan)
referred to the ballot a measure to move the filing date for petition
signatures back from four months before the election to May 1. This
would have given people two fewer months to collect signatures and the Legislature
more time to mess with citizen initiatives. OPPOSE. It was held in the House Rules Committee, so is dead for the year, but look for them to bring it back next session.
SCR1019 initiative; referendum; signature allocation (Reagan) required signatures for a ballot measure to be collected from at least five counties and a minimum of 25 percent from counties other than Maricopa and Pima counties. This would have made it nearly impossible to put measures on the ballot. OPPOSE. It was held in the House Rules Committee, but look for it to return next year too.
HB2007 ballot measures; proposition 105 disclosure (Ugenti) required that any campaign literature, publicity pamphlet, and the ballot include language include a disclaimer about amending the measure. There were inaccuracies in this brief statement. HB2007 would not have better informed voters, but was clearly intended to confuse, erect additional impediments, and to discourage citizen initiatives. OPPOSE. It never came to the Senate Floor for action in the Committee of the Whole, so it is dead for the session.
HB2621 fund; state parks; roads; fee (Escamilla,
Cardenas, Contreras, et al.) established an optional fee when you registered your
vehicle. The fee would have helped fund the state parks system, although would not have provided a sustainable fund for parks. We need a dedicated funding source to really help our park system, but this would have been a good start. SUPPORT. It was never acted on in Senate Committee of the Whole. There was an attempt to add it to the budget bills, but that was rejected. It is dead for the session.
HCR2026 clean elections; education funding (Boyer, Mesnard, Petersen, et al.) referred to the ballot a measure to redirect Clean Elections dollars to education. This was a cynical bill to attempt to divide advocates for campaign finance reform and education. OPPOSE. It was never heard in the Senate Committee of the Whole and is dead for the session.