"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
~ Fredrick Douglas
February 28, 2014
Dear Conservation Friends,
credit: Sandy Bahr
It was another busy week at the Arizona Legislature and for most of the week, there were lots of protesters and television cameras as everyone was waiting to see if the Governor said no to discrimination. After the Governor vetoed the bill, she unfortunately signed HB2196 election law amendments; repeal (Farnsworth), which is a repeal of last year's terrible election bill. This means the referendum will not be on the ballot and the voters will not have an opportunity to send a strong message to the Legislature to stop messing with our important constitutional rights, including voting rights and the right to citizen initiatives. We can only hope they do not try to amend other bills to include certain provisions from the repealed measure.
Legislators went on to pass dozens of bills out of one house or the other, including bills that addressed everything from wolves and forests to nuclear energy. It looks like there will be some kind of "forest management" bill that may even include an appropriation. We are hoping to see one that actually promotes ecological principals. We shall see.
See below for a few updates and opportunities for action and stay tuned for more of the same next week.
credit: Scott Sprague
HB2699 endangered species programs; rescission; reimbursement (Thorpe, Stevens: Gowan, et al.) did not advance out of the House, but stay tuned for next week. It prohibits the Arizona Game and Fish and Department from participating in most, if not all, reintroduction programs under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It goes on to say that all species of wildlife that were introduced under programs that were not cooperatively implemented and offspring of the wildlife must be removed by January 1, 2015. Under the definition of cooperatively implemented provided in this bill, it would mean that Arizona Game and Fish could participate in very few, if any, of the reintroduction programs. These include programs for reintroduction and recovery of California condors, black-footed ferrets, Mexican gray wolves, and many native fish species.
Please ask your representatives to vote NO on HB2699. Don't weaken protections for endangered species!
SB1227 municipalities; counties; energy efficient codes (Crandell) appeared on a Committee of the Whole calendar and then was removed. It is likely it was removed because it does not have the votes to pass in the Senate. This outrageous bill, which is supported by the Homebuilders of Central Arizona, prohibits cities, towns, and counties from adopting any mandatory energy efficiency, energy conservation, or green building codes -- all or in part. This is a terrible bill that would hinder local efforts to reduce electricity and water use and save taxpayers' dollars.
Please ask your senator to oppose SB1227 and any other efforts to weaken energy efficiency codes.
credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service
The Arizona Senate passed two bad wolf bills on Monday, but not all senators supported them; there were 12 senators who voted no on both SB1211 and SB1212 and two more who voted no on SB1212 alone. (Note, for some reason our system still has Senator Dalessandro as a representative, but she is a senator and she did vote no on both).
SB1211 Mexican wolf; taking; reporting (Griffin,
Burges, D. Farnsworth, et al.) permits an employee of the Arizona Department of Agriculture to kill any wolf that has killed or is killing livestock, if there is an agreement between the agency and US Fish and Wildlife to that effect. This passed 18-12.
SB1212 appropriation; wolf recovery; litigation costs (Griffin, Burges, Crandell, et al.) appropriates $250,000 for state litigation to impede federal efforts to recover Mexican wolves. It passed 16-14 and would have failed had Senator Worsley not switched his vote from nay to aye.
Both bills have been assigned to the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee and are likely to be heard on March 10th.
Please thank senators who opposed these anti-wolf bills.
Here is a quick update on a few of the bills that moved through the process this past week.
SB1274 aquifer protection permits; post closure procedure (Griffin, Barto, Burges, et al.) passed out of the Senate 21-9. It makes several changes to the cost estimate and financial assurance provisions of the aquifer protection permit (APP) program, a program to keep pollution out of our groundwater. Most of those changes seem fine. Our main concerns are with the provision which removes the ability of the director to require remedial action as a condition of an APP -- this removes an important tool for improving aquifer water quality -- and the language relating to the point of compliance is also of concern as it is quite confusing and could result in weakening the program by establishing the nondegradation provisions as a "standard." OPPOSE.
SB1402 renewable energy; definition (Melvin) passed out of the senate along party lines 17-13. It defines renewable energy to include nuclear power and specifically sources fueled by uranium fuel rods that include eighty percent or more recycled nuclear fuel and "natural thorium reactor resources under development." Clearly if you have to mine the fuel, it is not renewable. It now goes to the House where we can only hope they recognize that it is the radiation from the waste that is sustainable for a very a long time, not the resource. OPPOSE.
SB1478 water protection fund; mesquite; tamarisk (Griffin) was amended and passed out of the Senate 20-10. It prohibits the Arizona Water Protection Fund from being used to plant mesquite, tamarisk, or other non-native high water use trees, so would no longer bas planting cottonwoods or willows. It includes provisions for a watershed improvement fund for removing "noxious brush and other vegetation." It could still be used for purposes that are contrary to ecological restoration, but much less so than before. OPPOSE, may go NEUTRAL.
HB2106 wildland-urban interface study committee (Kavanagh) passed the House 49-10-1. It establishes a wildland-urban interface study committee to study and develop legislation relating to state laws and local ordinances concerning the creation of defensible space in and around wildland-urban interface areas, including the removal of hazardous vegetation, as well as building codes for residential and commercial buildings in wildland-urban interface areas relating to fire prevention and control. SUPPORT.
HCR2018 funding ballot measures; reauthorization (Boyer, Thorpe: Allen, et al.) is ready to go to the House floor. It refers to the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that requires all ballot measures that have any 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 these measures are 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. OPPOSE.
HCR2029 Wupatki; wilderness area; opposition (Peshlakai, Borrelli, Cardenas, et al) was amended to remove the provisions in opposition to wilderness at Wupatki National Monument and instead focuses on resolving issues with the family. This is a good thing. MONITOR.
To find out more about the bills we are tracking, click on Legislative Tracker. Below are the committee agendas for this week. It is a light week as they will be discussing a lot of the bills on the floor of each house again.
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.
Remember, if you want to use the "Request to Speak" system this session to sign in on bills, you will need to set up a new account. Please contact me if you are interested in doing that. If you do so, you can register your support or opposition to a bill from your home computer. You need not actually speak on the bill. You can only register your support our opposition through this system when the bills are in committee.
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 taking action and, as always, thank you for caring about Arizona's environment!
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter
Coming Up This Week at the Legislature
Monday, March 3rd
Senate Committee on Government and Environment at 2:00 P.M. or when Floor adjourns in Senate Hearing Room 3
- HB2092 department of environmental quality; continuation (Shope, Cardenas, Fann, et al.) continues the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality through 2024. Unfortunately, the stated purpose of the agency in this bill is not to protect the environment, but to instead "consolidate and focus responsibility for environmental management and administration of water quality, air quality, solid waste and hazardous waste regulation with the goal of increasing effectiveness, efficiency and public acceptance of environmental regulation." Sheesh.
- HB2125 air quality forecasting; nonattainment areas (Pratt, Shope: Griffin) requires that dust forecasting apply to any PM10 (particulate) nonattainment area. This is to include Pinal County. SUPPORT.
House Committee on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources is not meeting this week.
Tuesday, March 4th
Both the House and Senate will likely meet in caucuses at 9am or 10am.
Senate Committee on Elections is not meeting.
Wednesday, March 5th
Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs at 9:00 A.M. in Senate Hearing Room 109
Thursday, February 6th
- SCM1001 Yuma desalting plant (Griffin, Gowan, Stevens, et al.) is a memorial to Congress and the President asking that the US Department of Interior take all necessary steps to operate the Yuma Desalting Plant. Seriously? This plant is a dinosaur and extremely expensive to operate. It is always interesting to see so-called fiscal conservatives push for spending enormous amounts of taxpayer money on something this inefficient. OPPOSE.
There are only a few agendas posted for Thursday and no environmental bills are scheduled for that day. There will likely be floor action, however.