Sierra Club Legislative Update: "Another Ugly Week at the Capitol"

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The latest from Sierra Club legislative lobbyist Sandy Bahr:

“Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light?” ~Maurice Freehill

February 12, 2010

Hi everyone! It was another ugly week at the Capitol as they voted out bill after bill that should be part of some comedy sketch and not our statutes. My favorite was the light bulb bill—it says we can manufacture and sell incandescent light bulbs in Arizona and they will not be subject to any federal standards. This one bill spurred a discussion about secession and also the difficulties of applying makeup with light from a compact fluorescent bulb. Representative Cajero Bedford professed that she was standing up for women and indicated that if it comes to aesthetics or the environment, aesthetics is her choice. Yes indeed, what we need is both enlightenment and some new bulbs.

This week, contact your representatives in the Arizona House and ask them to oppose

HB2451 line extensions; utility infrastructure, charges (Antenori: Crump, Gowan, et al). Likewise contact your senator and ask her/him to oppose SB1198 line extensions; utility infrastructure; charges (S. Allen, Aguirre, Miranda, et al). These are identical bills and very bad policy. The bills prohibit a public service corporation from charging a customer for the first one thousand feet of a line to extend electric service from a public service corporation's existing permanent facility to the point of delivery. This applies if the cost of the line or service lateral is ten thousand dollars or less. If the cost is more than ten thousand dollars, the public service corporation can conduct a cost analysis, at its own expense, to determine the cost, and require payment on any costs above ten thousand dollars. There are also provisions about requiring credits for master planned communities.

These bills are unconstitutional as the provisions infringe on the constitutional rate-making authority of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Next, the bills would shift one of the costs of sprawl development from the developers back to the ratepayers. The reason the Arizona Corporation Commission discontinued this policy of free extensions was the Commission determined it was unfair to burden ratepayers with these costs. Growth and development should pay for itself.

To email your legislators or find their direct phone numbers, click on Legislators or paste http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster.asp into your browser. 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 them to connect you with your legislators.

Here are a few quick updates: The lottery reauthorization bill did pass and did keep the Heritage Fund in the mix. So the Heritage Fund lives, so they can sweep it another day. We will continue to fight that, of course.

SCR1033 repeal 1998 proposition 105 (R. Pearce) did not advance beyond committee yet, but look for it or something very much like it to move through the legislature this session.

John Harris was confirmed to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Ben Grumbles as Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. He will now focus on opposing market mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and emissions controls for cars, plus promote general permits (read weaker permits) for minor things such uranium mines. It is not looking good at ADEQ right now.

Here is what is coming up at the Legislature this week.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Senate Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt Committee at 1:30 p.m., SHR 109
SB1193 agricultural best management practices; enforcement (S. Pierce) states that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has exclusive jurisdiction over the enforcement of dust control regulations for agricultural activities in current and future PM-10 nonattainment areas. This should be deleted as these provisions need to be enforceable under the Clean Air Act which includes the federal government and citizens. OPPOSE.

SB1198 line extensions; utility infrastructure; charges (S. Allen, Aguirre, Miranda, et al) See above. OPPOSE.

SB1223 underground water storage; preexisting use (S. Allen) will have a strike everything amendment on public rights-of-way; claims. This is a silly bill that has been promoted the last three sessions. The way this session is going, however, they might actually pass it. It asserts and claims, on behalf of the state and its political subdivisions, rights-of-way across public lands acquired after the effective date of Revised Statute 2477. This relates back to an 1866 law known as "Revised Statute 2477" (RS 2477), which stated “the right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted,” effectively granting a right-of-way allowing highway construction on federal public lands. The statute was repealed by Congress in 1976, when Congress enacted the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. For a variety of reasons, most of them having to do with wanting roads over every blessed inch of this state, certain people continue to push this crazy legislation. It is likely to create confusion rather than open up any roads as its proponents would like to do, but it is a bad message, and could slow down efforts to protect our public lands from irresponsible off-road vehicle use and protect resources by closing certain roads. It could affect at least some of our military bases, which is why the Yuma Marine Corps Air Station has expressed concerns about the bill and opposed it in previous sessions. OPPOSE.

SB1349 state parks; request for information (Leff) will have a strike everything amendment on state parks; management. It is an emergency measure that allows the Arizona State Park Board to enter into contracts with public and private entities for the operation and maintenance of state parks, without performing statutory procurement requirements. This may be a step toward trying to privatize certain parks and certainly will not help us retain and sustain the park system. We need to watch this carefully. WATCH.
SB1356 water bank; excess CAP water (S. Pierce: Alvarez) is another emergency measure (apparently there are a lot of emergencies this year) that authorizes the Arizona Water Banking Authority to obtain and store excess Central Arizona Project water. WATCH.

SB1407 state land leases; term; appeal (Melvin, S. Allen, Gowan, et al) requires the state land commissioner to notify a lessee 60 days prior if the commissioner is not going to renew a grazing lease, allows for a repeal of the nonrenewal, and the commissioner has the burden of proving that the nonrenewal was in the best interest of the trust. This is clearly another attempt to make it difficult for anyone other than the existing lessees to get these leases. OPPOSE.

SB1408 agricultural best management; dust; districts (Melvin, S. Allen, Pierce, et al) expands the activities that are subject to the BMP general permit to include irrigation districts, but only irrigation districts in nonattainment areas formed after 2009. It appears to make the irrigation districts in Pinal County subject to the BMP general permit requirements, but is written so that it doesn't make any other irrigation districts subject to the general permit requirements. These Best Management Practices are a bit of a joke anyway and this bill is pretty unclear. We will monitor it and possibly oppose it when it gets to the floor.

SB1410 trust land exchanges; military preservation (Nelson) includes the statutory provisions for exchanging state trust lands under narrow conditions and for very specific purposes. The specific lands to be exchanged would have to be referred to the ballot and approved by the voters. They have to do an assessment, appraisals, public meetings and comments prior to moving forward the exchange. This bill would be meaningless without the accompanying constitutional amendment, as well. As this includes what we have been asking for relative to exchanges, we are supportive of it moving forward. SUPPORT.
SB1412 dairy farms; zoning; agricultural purpose (Nelson) states that feeding pens, feed lots and feed areas that are part of an ongoing dairy are not subject to county zoning regulations. This is a clear attempt to preempt regulation of these areas by Pinal County, where they have had a lot of environmental problems with them. OPPOSE.

SCR1046 jurisdiction over intrastate waters (C. Gray, Gould: S. Allen, et al) refers to the ballot a constitutional amendment that states that only the State of Arizona can regulate nonnavigable intrastate waters. Apparently this is the latest thumb your nose at the Clean Water Act measure from our legislature. It also defines navigable waters as only those on which routine, interstate commerce can float on their surface. Obviously, this would mean most of the waters would receive only the weak and limited protection the State of Arizona offers. OPPOSE.

SCR1050 greenhouse emissions; legislative authority (S. Allen, Gould, C. Gray et al) refers to the ballot a measure that states that the legislature has exclusive authority to regulate anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and substances produced by mechanical or chemical processes, including agricultural operations and waste operations. They say it may be cited as the “Freedom to Breathe Act,” but I would cite it as something quite different — “Another nutty measure brought to you by the Arizona Legislature.” OPPOSE.

Senate Judiciary Committees Meeting at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1

SB1363 eminent domain; governing body; vote (C. Gray, Gould, R. Pearce, et al) will have a strike everything amendment that includes more actions that must be taken prior to condemnation. WATCH.

SB1366 eminent domain; relocation assistance (C. Gray, R. Pearce, and Gould) will have a strike everything, but it was not yet posted.

SCR1043 clean elections act; repeal (C. Gray) will have a strike everything amendment on clean elections; funds that refers to the ballot a measure that transfers the Clean Elections Fund to the Classroom Site Fund. OPPOSE.

House Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee at 2:00 p.m. in HHR4

HB2786 lease of state parks (Goodale) would require State Parks to enter into a lease agreement with Lake Havasu City for only $50,000 per year and for 25 years. This is a bad idea as it will undercut funding for the overall parks system. OPPOSE.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Senate Appropriations Committee Meeting at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 109

SB1104 technical correction; delinquent property; sale (R. Pearce) will have a strike everything on general fund expenditures; limit. While it is not yet posted, I am sure it will be bad.

SB1311 budget preparation; zero-based budgeting (C. Gray, Gorman, Burges) requires that budget estimates include zero-based budgeting.

Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1

SB1126 intrastate nuclear fuel act (Melvin) states that nuclear reactor fuel that is produced entirely within the state boundaries is not subject to federal law or federal licensing, certification, registration or other federal qualification or other requirements under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Apparently that whole national security issue is not a big deal for the folks at the Legislature, nor is the “United” part of the “United States of America.” OPPOSE.

House Environment Committee at 2:00 p.m. in House Hearing Room 5

HB2165 vehicle emissions testing; onboard diagnostics (Nichols) allows vehicles that receives an onboard diagnostic check that results in a finding that the vehicle is not ready for testing or that results in a diagnostic trouble code, to return immediately to the emissions testing line, pay a second emissions testing fee and take a tailpipe emissions test. If the vehicle passes the tailpipe emissions test, the vehicle is required to take and pass an onboard diagnostic check within one year after the tailpipe emissions test. It weakens the vehicle emissions program. OPPOSE.

House Committee on Government at 2:00 p.m. in House Hearing Room 4

HB2605 subdivisions; acting in concert (Burges) weakens the already weak provisions that allow the real estate commissioner to prosecute those who are “acting in concert” to avoid the subdivision laws. It puts a three-year time limit on taking action and also says that if someone sits on the lots for five years, then it is not acting in concert. OPPOSE.

HB2676 energy park authority (Nichols, Meza, Pancrazi, et al) establishes the energy park authority as a corporate and political body separate from the State. It has a board that is made up of legislators and people representing utilities and other industries. Its purpose is to support, diversify and expand Arizona’s energy resources through the development of electric generation facilities and the improvement and expansion of transmission facilities and related supporting infrastructure. It provides for adopting a procedure for approving and executing the financing of projects. While it says there is no conflict with the powers of the Arizona Corporation Commission, it most certainly seems there is. This is just a weird idea and an odd bill. The people who crafted it either have no idea how the current system works or are deliberately trying to create a big mess or both. OPPOSE.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

House Committee on Commerce at 9:00 a.m. in House Hearing Room 5

HB2002 technical correction; corporation commission; powers (Reagan) eliminates the word regulation from the powers of the commission and just leaves rules. I am not sure about the implications of this, but it is of concern. We will monitor for shenanigans.

HB2474 fireworks; regulation (JP Weiers, Gowan: Cl Campbell, et al) legalizes sparklers and other fireworks. We have supported the fire chiefs on this one due to increasing the fire risks associated with these devices. OPPOSE.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

House Water and Energy Committee at 9:00 a.m. in House Hearing Room 5

HB2063 solar energy; permit fees (Boone) establishes a maximum building permit fee of $75 that can be charged for various solar facilities including solar hot water and solar photo voltaic. SUPPORT.

HB2503 taxation; biogas facilities (Murphy) would tax these at the agricultural rate. Why is this necessary?

HCM2014 nuclear energy plant; development (Nichols, Meza, Pancrazi) sends a message to Congress to pursue federal initiatives and policies to spur construction of the “first wave of new nuclear plants and develop advanced nuclear technologies.” It, of course, asks for money as everyone knows that no one in the private sector wants to fund these risky ventures. Apparently, the French company really wowed our legislators. They are tripping all over themselves to promote this costly and high water use form of electricity generation. Oh yes, and there is that whole waste issue. OPPOSE.

House Committee on Judiciary at 9:00 a.m. in House Hearing Room 4

HB2467 initiatives; review; title; signature collection (McComish, Ch Campbell) makes several changes relative to citizen initiatives including allowing them to submit an initiative or referendum petition to Legislative Council staff for review, clarifies that someone who knowingly collects false signatures is guilty of fraud, and it changes the numbering system for initiatives to avoid confusion from year to year. This seems fine.

Senate Committee on Public Safety and Human Services at 9:00 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room 3

SB1330 regulation of fireworks (Verschoor, Melvin, Nelson, et al) is more of the same on fireworks. Apparently this is a huge priority for the Legislature as they have at least four bills, all of which are being heard.

If you are not sure who your legislators are, please go to http://azredistricting.org/mapping/default2.asp?tname=Interim.2009.Legislative.Map&service=ircmaps&Layer4=on&Layer1=on&action=zoomin&ActiveLayer=16 or call the House or Senate information desks. For more information on bills we are tracking, go to http://arizona.sierraclub.org/political_action/tracker/ Thank you!

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