Friday, June 5, 2009

State Budget: Sierra Club Reax

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Here's the weekly bulletin from Sandy Bahr, lobbyist for the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club. Among her concerns: The GOP budget plan eliminates impact fees for three years and limits them thereafter.

Hi all! I am putting this out on Thursday night as tomorrow I am off to talk about electricity transmission for the day. It was an “interesting” week at the Capitol, but not much good came of it. After passing a horrendous budget this week, the Senate will move on to hearing a plethora of bad bills next week. Already President Burns has assigned more than 200 bills to committees. I do believe our state would be better off without most of them.

The House passed the same terrible budget. They have been hearing and voting out bills all along, but I expect will move more to the Senate now that they have sent a budget up to the Governor. Speaking of the Governor, please contact her and ask her to veto the budget bills. Call her at (602) 542-4331 or toll free at 1-(800) 253-0883. You can email here by clicking here and then filling in the online form. Please contact her as soon as possible.

She should veto the budget for the following reasons, among many:

SB1035 contains a moratorium on development impact fees that prohibits imposition of any impact fees from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012. It also contains language that that makes it more difficult for

cities and towns to implement development impact fees and severely restricts the purposes for which they can be assessed. For example, they can only assess impact fees (once the moratorium expires of course) for smaller parks of 15 acres or less. It prohibits assessing them for large parks, riparian, historical and cultural facilities, among many other things. Without impact fees the taxpayers will be subsidizing sprawl development even more — already impact fees do not cover the cost of development. This is really just a hidden tax as well as a massive subsidy for the folks who brought us this mess in the first place.

SB1035 includes a limit on the applicability of new building codes to residential development approved prior to May of 2009. New energy efficiency codes are absolutely necessary and should be applied to any construction that gets a future building permit. These codes save the homeowners on their utility bills — perhaps they can afford their utility bill and their mortgage. Approval of a plat should not freeze a code. This provision will put us further behind with improving energy efficiency in our state. Building codes are also and primarily about public safety. This provision could put the public at risk. It is truly irresponsible.

SB1035 includes a rule-making moratorium for fiscal year 2009-2010. First of all, this is unnecessary as the Governor has already implemented a moratorium on rule making. Second, it could interfere with the Arizona Corporation Commission’s efforts to implement an Energy Efficiency Standard or other important rules. Third, it is bad policy as the legislature passes laws that require rules for implementation. This will just delay them. It is not regulation that has hurt our economy. It is lack of regulation.

There are also a number of concerns about the environmental budget reconciliation bill, SB1258, including the diversion of State Parks Heritage Fund dollars for fire suppression — we strongly oppose that — and a self-funding mechanism for the State Land Department without any accompanying reform.

We also object to the provisions which pre-empt local government’s ability to develop ordinances to regulate air quality relative to these large industrial agricultural facilities and PM10 emissions and instead shift any “regulation” to an agricultural best management practices committee. This just means more foxes guarding the henhouse (literally, in the case of the henhouse, see provisions dealing with laying hen producers).

There is more, but you get the idea.

The Senate Education, Judiciary, and the Veterans and Military Affairs committees are hearing bills next week. There were no bills on the agendas that were specifically pertinent to our work, although many of them look a bit whacky. There was no agenda posted as of this evening for the Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt Committee, but they could post something tomorrow.

On Monday, from 8:30am - noon, Sen. Sylvia Allen will be chairing “a new Arizona Senate ad hoc committee on climate initiatives to educate the public about cap and trade legislation and the cost to citizens and our economy.” I am sure it will be “fair and balanced.” Her news release states that “Monday’s meeting will include an analysis of federal cap and trade programs and their impact on Arizona’s economy and citizens. Scientific experts and members of industry will testify.” Other members of this fun little ad hoc committee include Senators Ron Gould, Thayer Verschoor, Al Melvin, Amanda Aguirre, and Richard Miranda. It could be entertaining, but is unlikely to be very useful.

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