by Jim Nintzel
Sandy Bahr, legislative lobbyist for the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, sent out the following reaction to the latest state budget developments:
Please contact the Governor—again—and express your disappointment regarding the signing of many of the budget bills.
You can contact Governor Brewer by calling her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883. You can email her here.
While she did veto some of the budget, she signed HB2008 general government; budget reconciliation (Adams). This bill places a two-year cap on development impact fees. God forbid that the cities actually recover the costs of developments and that development pay for itself. The Homebuilders continue to get what they want at the Capitol and to ensure that the rest of us subsidize their sprawling developments.
The bill includes a building code moratorium for two years. Why they are freezing building codes is beyond me. We need to
implement new energy savings codes, especially during these economically challenging times. Many building code changes are for public safety as well. A moratorium is just plain irresponsible. This is also from our “friends” the Homebuilders.
HB2008 includes a rule-making moratorium relative to nearly any rule that would cost any money. An agency can’t conduct a rule making without the prior written approval of the Governor. They exempt the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) or any agency that is headed by a single elected official from these provisions, although the language is a bit fuzzy. The bill includes an exemption for rules needed to address threats to public health and safety and rules needed to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as to replace archaic or illegal rules.
She also signed HB2014 environment; budget reconciliation (Adams). It includes a Heritage Fund raid that diverts $3 million of the State Parks Board Heritage Fund for fire suppression. It appropriates $9,773,500 of State Trust Land dollars to the State Land Department for the management of state trust lands — this comes with none of the needed reform or conservation. They clarify that the Arizona Water Protection Fund will receive no general fund dollars this year. It allows the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to use more of the Underground Storage Tank dollars to administer that program—that is probably an okay provision. The overall cuts to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in the budget are significant and mean less monitoring of water quality, fewer programs for improving air quality, and defunding of the state’s recycling program, among other provisions.
There will be at least one additional special session on this budget and this does not begin to address the issues for next year, so be prepared for more hits to important programs, especially the ones that actually do something to protect public health and the environment.
Thanks for taking action!