Sierra Club Update: "Speaking of Truly Terrible Bills..."

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Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club sends us this dispatch:

“The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues—self-restraint." —Edwin Way Teale.

Hi everyone! That whole self-restraint concept is lost on the majority in each house of the Arizona Legislature as they pass bill after bill that will harm our state, its people, and its air, water, and wildlife. What is up with that anyway? There have been few years in the time I have been following the antics of the legislature where I have seen such a collection of truly terrible bills advance, the way they are this year. And speaking of truly terrible bills . . . .

SB1200 NOW: game and fish commission; recommendation board (Nelson) passed out of the House on Thursday 36-19-5 and is on its way to the Governor. Please contact Governor Brewer and ask her to veto SB1200. Yes, it is a long-shot, but giving up is just not an option. This bill ensures that the larger public will have no role in wildlife management and codifies in law the good ol’ boy system. It sets up the Arizona Game and Fish Commission appointment recommendation board, which is made up of narrowly defined hunting organizations, one member of the public, and one rancher. The purpose of this board is to interview Game and Fish Commission candidates and make recommendations to the Governor — she/he has to pick a commissioner from among those recommendations. Any candidate for Game and Fish will have to pass this group’s litmus tests.

You can contact Governor Brewer by calling her at

(602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883. You can email her by clicking on Governor Brewer and then filling in the online form. You can also paste this website into your browser http://azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp

Please also thank the following Representatives for voting “no” on the bill: Ash cash@azleg.gov, Bradley dbradley@azleg.gov, Cajero-Bedford ocajerobedford@azleg.gov, Chad Campbell chcampbell@azleg.gov, Clovis Campbell clcampbell@azleg.gov, Chabin tchabin@azleg.gov, Farley sfarley@azleg.gov, Heinz mheinz@azleg.gov, Jones rjones@azleg.gov, Lujan dlujan@azleg.gov, Meyer emeyer@azleg.gov, Meza rmeza@azleg.gov, Pancrazi lpancrazi@azleg.gov, Patterson dpatterson@azleg.gov, Schapira dschapira@azleg.gov, Sinema ksinema@azleg.gov, Tovar atovar@azleg.gov, Waters rwaters@azleg.gov, and Young-Wright nyoungwright@azleg.gov.

They also passed bills to try and undercut the Clean Water Act, make regulation of greenhouse gas emissions impossible, and further exempt the mines from environmental protections, among other terrible bills.

Here is what the committees are doing this week.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Senate Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt Committee at 1:30 p.m. in SHR 109

SB1445 groundwater transportation; Big Chino sub-basin (S. Pierce, Burns, Nelson) is the bill to address a portion of the Salt River Project (SRP) and Prescott agreement in principle relative to the upper portion of the Verde River. The bill continues to allow for the interbasin transfer of groundwater, for Prescott and Prescott Valley to import water from outside the Active Management Area, and it codifies that they can import 8,068 acre-feet per year. (This is the number established by the Department of Water Resources). It exempts this water from the “legally available” criterion that is part of the Assured Water Supply rules. It also allows additional water to be withdrawn if Prescott delivers more than 231 acre-feet to a tribe. Both Prescott and SRP believe that the bill addresses the constitutionality issues with the current statute. While it is still special legislation, they believe it is now constitutional. We continue to oppose the importation of water from the Big Chino. We do hope that through the agreement in principle and other mechanisms, the upper Verde can be saved and that it will not become just another effluent dependent water or worse.

HB2580 NOW: vapor recovery systems; test equipment (Barnes: Boone, Gowan et al) allows people to offer for sale, install or use vapor recovery systems that have been approved by a third party that has been accredited to test equipment. In addition, it allows the Department of Weights and Measures to randomly witness tests on vapor recovery systems instead of testing them. This may be a brother-in-law bill, where someone’s friend or relative has a business they would like to market to the government. WATCH.

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.

Senate Judiciary Committee at 1:30 p.m. in SHR 1

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.

HCR2018 initiatives; filing deadline (McComish, Ch Campbell, Sinema, et al) requires signatures for an initiative petition to be filed six months prior to the election rather than four months, so it moves back the filing date by two months. We would rather it have been one month as that is somewhat justified — the early voting has moved the start of elections back by a month. That being said, there is currently not enough time to sort through all the issues and get ballot arguments filed, plus challenge whatever the legislature does to the description and such.

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

SB1154 technical correction; estates (S. Pierce) will have a strike everything amendment on underground storage tanks. It is not yet posted.

SB1349 NOW: state parks; management (Leff) 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.

House Banking and Insurance Committee at 2:00 p.m. in HHR5

SB1348 regulatory review; rule making (Burns) makes it more difficult for agencies to implement protective rules and establishes a Commission on privatization and such. The bill requires Senate Confirmation of members of the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council(GRRC) and pprohibits GRRC from approving a rule unless there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the benefits of the rule outweigh the probable costs. This will mean rules that are protective of the public health and environment will get weakened or eliminated if the agency cannot demonstrate to GRRC through clear and convincing evidence that the benefits outweigh the probable costs. Agencies, which are already strapped for cash, will likely not even try to adopt a rule that would require such extensive research. It prohibits GRRC from approving a rule that is more stringent than federal law unless there is statutory authority to exceed the requirements of the federal law. Again, we seem to want to win the race to the bottom when it comes to public health and environmental protections. OPPOSE.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development at 1:30 p.m. in SHR1

HB2337 Arizona manufactured incandescent lightbulbs; regulation (Antenori, Biggs, Gowan, et al) says that incandescent lightbulbs that are manufactured and sold in Arizona are not subject to federal law. This is an anti-energy efficiency bill that is probably unconstitutional and is reminiscent of the bill passed by the legislature that made it okay to manufacture and chlorofluorocarbons despite federal law and international treaties. Federal law requires that more efficient lightbulbs be manufactured over time. The sponsor is apparently looking for a lawsuit. OPPOSE.

HB2700 solar energy tax incentives; extension (Boone) extends the tax credits for commercial and industrial solar installations from 2012 to 2018. SUPPORT.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Senate Committee on Finance at 1:30 p.m. in SHR3

HB2502 taxation of solar energy property (Murphy) provides for the valuation for utility-scale solar plants in the same manner as agricultural property. The property has to be at least 20 acres or more and generate 100 megawatt hours or more of electricity per acre per year.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

House Water and Energy Committee at 9:00 a.m. in HHR5

HB2561 agency accounts; technical correction (Mason) will have a strike everything amendment on groundwater transportation; Big Chino sub-basin, which is likely to be exactly like SB1445.

SB1276 water monitoring assistance program; continuation (Nelson, Aguirre, McGuire, et al) continues the water monitoring assistance program through 2021. The program assists small public water systems (serving up to 10,000 persons) with water quality sampling and monitoring required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. SUPPORT.

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.

House Judiciary Committee at 9:00 a.m. in HHR4

SCR1009 publicly financed elections; prohibition (Paton) refers to the ballot a measure to prohibit the use of public dollars for financing elections. If passed by the voters it would eliminate Clean Elections. The last thing Arizona needs is more money in politics. This is a very bad idea. OPPOSE.

SCR1013 lieutenant governor; secretary of state (Paton) refers to the ballot a measure to rename the Secretary of State Lieutenant Governor.

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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