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  "Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you."
~ Langston Hughes
 

March 7, 2014

Dear Conservation Friends,

Winged Victory AZ Capitol by Mark Coryell
       credit: Mark Coryell

It was a light week for committees at the Legislature, but there was a lot of action on the House and Senate Floors where they moved along a very long list of legislation, much of it unnecessary and potentially harmful. It is always interesting to see how many bills a "conservative" legislature produces.

You have seen several references to "strike everything amendments" in these updates and some bills listed where the bill short title says "NOW." Strike everything amendments are confusing to most people, so here is a quick explanation. Strike everything amendments can be offered in any standing committee to eliminate all of the original bill language and replace it with brand new language, often times on a totally different topic. This results in a bill with the same number and different topic or at a minimum different language. Once the strike everything amendment is adopted in Committee of the Whole, the new bill title starts with the word "NOW." If you ever have questions about this or other matters relating to the Arizona Legislature, please do not hesitate to contact me.

In the good news column this week, SB1227 municipalities; counties; energy efficient codes (Crandell) appears to be stalled in the Senate as they do not have the necessary 16 votes to pass it. 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 bill would hinder local efforts to reduce electricity and water use and save taxpayers' dollars. Please keep up the pressure on this bill as it could sneak through if we do not keep it on their radar.

Take Action!
Please ask your senator to oppose SB1227 and any other efforts to weaken energy efficiency codes.



In the bad news column, the Arizona Senate passed three bad wolf bills, all of which are on the agenda for the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee on Monday.

Wolf pup (Photo courtesy of USFWS)
  credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service
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. It also authorizes the livestock industry to kill wolves under additional conditions.
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.
SCR1006 Mexican wolf; population rule (Griffin) is a resolution – a message – 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, and it says the legislature supports killing wolves that have harassed or killed livestock, pets, or people. Including people on the list with livestock and pets is a bit over the top. Wolves are not harassing, harming, or killing people.

Take Action!

Please ask Representatives to oppose all three anti-wolf bills.
 

San Pedro Riparian NCA by Sandy Bahr
                credit: Sandy Bahr

SB1478 water protection fund; mesquite; tamarisk (Griffin) prohibits the Arizona Water Protection Fund from being used to plant mesquite, tamarisk, or other non-native high water use trees and also promotes the removal of those same trees. It goes on to establish a “watershed improvement program.” The bill still has major issues. First of all, mesquite are native and mesquite bosque provide important habitat for wildlife. Second, the focus should be on the restoration of areas, not on the removal of vegetation. We would like to see this bill limit removal of vegetation to non-native invasive plants such as buffelgrass or trees such as tamarisk.

This bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Agriculture and Water Committee on Tuesday. Please contact your representatives and ask them to oppose it.

Take Action!
As you representatives to Vote NO on SB1478 ad to instead protect our waters and watersheds.

petition boxes by Sandy Bahr
        credit: Sandy Bahr

HCR2018 funding ballot measures; reauthorization (Boyer, Thorpe: Allen, et al.) passed out of the House along party lines 35-23-2. 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 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 really a blatant attempt to weaken our rights to citizen initiatives as it would be very difficult to raise enough money and develop a campaign around the same issue every eight years.

There is a similar bill moving through the Senate, SCR1003. They could amend SCR1003 to match HCR2018 and then merely substitute the bills. It does appear that they are determined to place this on the ballot for the General Election. Please contact senators and ask them to vote no on both or either of these bills.

Take Action!
Please ask your senator to oppose weakening citizen initiatives in the constitution and vote no on HCR2018 and SCR1003.

 



To find out  more about the bills we are tracking, click on Legislative Tracker. Below are the committee agendas for this week.

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 all you do to make Arizona a better place and for looking out for the air, land, water, and wildlife!

Warm regards,
Sandy Bahr
Chapter Director
Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter
(602) 253-8633
http://arizona.sierraclub.org

 

Coming Up This Week at the Legislature 

Monday, March 10th

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.) was amended last week to give continue the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for five more years. It was then voted down. Apparently, they will be reconsidering eliminating the agency this week. 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."
  •  HB2128 weights; measures; vapor recovery systems (Pratt: Shope, Griffin) makes numerous changes to the requirements for vapor recovery mechanisms and procedures for gas stations.  It eliminates the need for new gas stations to install the stage II vapor recovery. The reason for this is they do not work effectively with most cars now on the road. This is the direction that EPA has been moving. MONITOR

House Committee on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources at 2:00 P.M. in House Hearing Room 4.

  • SB1211 Mexican wolf; taking; reporting (Griffin, Burges, D. Farnsworth, et al.) may be constitutional, but it is still a bad idea and sends a terrible message – that killing endangered wolves is somehow desirable. It says that the Arizona Department of Agriculture can kill wolves if there is an agreement with the federal government to do so. US Fish and Wildlife could not enter such an agreement as it would be detrimental to the recovery of these animals, which, as noted above, are highly endangered. The bill authorizes the livestock industry to kill endangered wolves that are taking livestock. Note, the additional language about killing wolves if an individual feels threatened is unnecessary as that is already the case. It is clearly intended to inflame, not inform or have any real impact in the law. 
  • SB1212 appropriation; wolf recovery; litigation costs (Griffin, Burges, Crandell, et al.) appropriates $250,000 for litigation relating to any expansion of the Mexican gray wolf recovery area. This is a terrible waste of money that should instead be directed to programs that benefit conservation or other important issues, not diverted to try to subvert recovery of this important animal. OPPOSE.
  • SCR1006 Mexican wolf; population rule (Griffin) is a resolution – a message – 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, and it says the legislature supports killing wolves that have harassed or killed livestock, pets, or people. Including people on the list with livestock and pets is a bit over the top. Wolves are not harassing, harming, or killing people. Mexican gray wolves have killed no people. Cows, on the other hand, are responsible for an average of 22 human deaths per year (Source CDC http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/wk/mm5829.pdf). OPPOSE.
  • SB1214 NOW: natural resource conservation district; expertise (Griffin) asserts that Natural Resource Conservation Districts are experts on land, water, soil, and natural resource issues, although there are no requirements that they actually have any expertise. MONITOR.
  • 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.

Tuesday, March 11th

Both the House and Senate will likely meet in caucuses at 9am or 10am.

House Committee on Agriculture and Water at 2:00 P.M. in House Hearing Room 5

  • SB1478 water protection fund; mesquite; tamarisk (Griffin) prohibits the Arizona Water Protection Fund from being used to plant mesquite, tamarisk, or other non-native high water use trees and also promotes the removal of those same trees. See above for more details. OPPOSE.
  • 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.
   Wednesday, March 12th

Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs at 9:00 A.M. in Senate Hearing Room 109

  • Presentation - U of A Cooperative Extension 
  • HB2303 permits; transfer; veterans (Pratt, Cardenas, Gowan, et al.) allows for the transfer of big game tags and permits to veterans. MONITOR
  • There may be a strike everything amendment to misuse the Arizona Heritage Fund.
Senate Committee on Finance at 2:00 P.M. in Senate Hearing Room 3
  • HB2285 NOW: TPT; refined coal transfer; exemption (Lesko) exempts, from state, county, city, town, and special district Transaction Privilege Tax, the transfer of title or possession of coal, back and forth, between a coal refinery and power plant. Do we really need yet another subsidy for dirty coal?
Thursday, March 13th

There are only a few agendas posted for Thursday and no environmental bills are scheduled for that day. There will likely be floor action and could be agendas posted later.
 
 

 
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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