Friday, February 5, 2010

Sierra Club Legislative Update

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club has sent out her weekly bulletin from the Arizona Legislature. Our favorite part:

HB2538 federal mandates; proof of constitutionality (Gowan, Burges, Lesko, et al) states that the legislature cannot enact any statute that appropriates state monies pursuant to a federal mandate or that complies with a federal mandate unless the federal mandate contains a report or document prescribing reasonable and logical arguments based on United States constitutional law that the federal mandate is a function of the federal government and will pass a constitutional challenge if contested in a court of law. Who among them would even recognize reasonable and logical arguments? Those words appear to be extremely out of place in this bill. It is hard to know if it is even worth wasting breath on an argument on this one.

Here's the whole missive:

Hi everyone! Thanks to all who helped rally for parks at environmental day at the Capitol. We had over 200 people there and hundreds more wrote, called, and emailed their legislators. Bills to address future parks funding issues will be heard in the coming weeks, but in the meantime we need to keep the pressure on to support parks and reinstate dollars for operations. Please continue to contact legislators, write letters-to-the-editor, and tell your friends and neighbors about what is happening to our parks.

This week everyone at the Legislature was feeling really special again as the Governor called

the sixth special session. They took up the sales tax referral — refers to the ballot a 1% sales tax that will be in effect for three years, plus bonding on the lottery. We were very concerned they would sweep all of the lottery revenues into the General Fund, as the Governor recommended, and thus eliminate the Heritage Fund, which funds parks and wildlife, as well the dollars in the Local Transportation Assistance Fund, which fund transit programs. So far, it appears that they are keeping the dollars intact, but the bill has not yet passed out of the House. Let legislators know you support keeping the Heritage Fund and oppose sweeping lottery dollars.

This week, please also call your Arizona Senator and ask her/him to oppose SCR1033. SCR1033 repeal 1998 proposition 105 (R. Pearce) refers to the ballot a measure to repeal the voter protection act provisions in the Arizona Constitution. The Voter Protection Act was enacted by Arizona voters in 1998 after years of the Legislature diverting dollars and undermining citizen initiatives. The Voter Protection Act keeps the legislature from repealing and totally undercutting voter-approved measures. You need only look at measures that do not have this protection to see what can happen without it in place. You need only look at the multitude of sweeps to see why it is needed.

Voters affirmed the decision to protect citizen initiatives with the defeat of a measure in 2008 that would have essentially eliminated the ability of citizens to pass initiatives. Despite the Legislature's assertions, the Voter Protection Act is not the problem with the budget, nor is it the solution to the budget. Our budget problems are a result of a national and statewide recession in part brought about by a speculative real estate industry. The declining tax revenues associated with the recession have hit the Arizona budget hard.

The percentage of general funds allocated to these voter protected programs is minimal. Most voter protected programs have a separate and dedicated funding source that was never available to the legislature. Ever since 2004, all voter approved initiatives must be funded with non general fund revenues identified in the initiative itself. So no voter approved initiative passed since 2004 is responsible for one penny of today’s budget deficit.

To email your senators or find their direct phone numbers, click on Senators or paste http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster.asp?Body=S 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 and ask them to connect you with your senator.

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

Monday, February 8, 2010

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

Confirmation of John Harris, Arizona Game and Fish Commission

SB1195 state land department; fees; funds (Nelson) makes several changes related to fees associated with state trust lands including those for mineral leases, conservation, etc. WATCH.

SB1238 air permits; begin actual construction (S. Allen, Barnes, Jones, et al) addresses permits under the Clean Air Act including Class I permits which are required for facilities with the potential to emit 100 tons per year of any criteria air pollutant, 10 tons per year of any single Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAPS) or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPS. It redefines “begin actual construction” relative to these permits by excluding activities that you would normally associate with beginning actual construction. They include clearing and grading, demolition, installation of roads, installations of pipes, installation of warehouses, office building, installation of concrete forms, footers, foundations and the list goes on. None of it would be considered beginning actual construction which triggers permitting. ADEQ can’t consider any of these activities or how they perform them in addressing the company’s permit if this is passed. OPPOSE.

SB1241 water recharge; direct use (S. Allen, Burges, McGuire, et al) add another provision in the law to "Water that cannot reasonably be used directly" — it includes the amount of groundwater withdrawn by the storer during the year for mineral extraction and metallurgical processing and delivered during that year for direct use to an irrigation district that is established pursuant to title 48, chapter 19 and that is located in the same active management area from which the amount of groundwater was withdrawn to the extent that the irrigation district or its customers demonstrate a reduction in the amount of groundwater that they otherwise would have withdrawn during that year within the irrigation district. I am not sure what this does yet, but it cannot be good.

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 (SDWA). SUPPORT.

SB1277 maximum daily load program; continuation (Nelson, Aguirre, McGuire, et al) Continues the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program for ten years through July 1, 2020. This is a program mandated by the Clean Water Act to provide for clean-up of impaired waters. While we support having a TMDL program, we are not so sure we support continuing it at ADEQ if the agency is not going to be funded to implement it.

SB1355 water use assessment (S. Pierce, Aguirre, Alvarez, et al) establishes the water resources fund and a water use assessment for municipal water systems, agriculture, and industrial. SUPPORT.

SB1359 department of water resources fund (S. Pierce, Aguirre, Ash, et al.) establishes the water resources fund. SUPPORT.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Senate Appropriations Committees 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 taxpayer bill of rights. While it is not yet posted, I am sure we will oppose this measure again which would severally limit the state’s ability to budget and was a total disaster in Colorado. OPPOSE.

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

SCR1031 public revenue expenditures; ballot measures (Garcia, Aboud, Lopez, et al) refers to the ballot a measure that expands the provisions of a proposition that requires any ballot measures to find a new funding source if there are costs associated with it. Currently, the law says the new source may not be the general fund. This says it cannot be the funds of political subdivisions. I am not sure why they are doing this. Is this really a problem?

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

HB2033 emissions; motorcycles; area A; date (JP Weiers, Burges, J. Weiers, et al) extends from 2010 to 2012 the date by which the EPA can grant an exemption for having motorcycles go through emissions. We have no position on this.

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.

HB2289 water recharge; direct use (Pratt, McGuire: Barnes) is identical to SB1241. We are reviewing this, but it looks bad.

HB2133 air quality nonattainment areas; designation (McGuire, Barnes, Jones, et al) includes provisions for nonattainment area designation including timelines. WATCH.

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

HB2115 counties; public meetings; minutes; posting (Konopnicki) requires posting to the website if the county has one. This seems fine.

HB2451 line extensions; utility infrastructure, chares (Antenori; Crump, Gowan, et al) prohibits 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 many problems with this bill. First of all, it is unconstitutional as it infringes on the constitutional rate-making authority of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Next, the bill would shift the costs of sprawl developments 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. OPPOSE.

HB2538 federal mandates; proof of constitutionality (Gowan, Burges, Lesko, et al) states that the legislature cannot enact any statute that appropriates state monies pursuant to a federal mandate or that complies with a federal mandate unless the federal mandate contains a report or document prescribing reasonable and logical arguments based on United States constitutional law that the federal mandate is a function of the federal government and will pass a constitutional challenge if contested in a court of law. Who among them would even recognize reasonable and logical arguments? Those words appear to be extremely out of place in this bill. It is hard to know if it is even worth wasting breath on an argument on this one.

HB2604 solid waste; Private enterprise (Kavanagh, Antenori, Biggs, et al) prohibits a municipality, regardless of size, from restraining private commercial or industrial recycling or solid waste management services. Does this mean it limits local regulations of these entities? I have some concerns about the impacts of this and its pre-emption of local government — again.

HB2619 game; fish; commission; appointment applications (JP Weiers) requires that these applications be public. That is fine, but I am a little concerned that this is just a vehicle bill which will be amended to include a lot of ridiculous provisions. We will monitor it.

Wednesday, February 10, 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.

HB2302 publication of notices; committee (Crump, Chabin, Jones, et al) establishes the Committee on Published Public Legal Notices for the purpose of examining existing statutes requiring newspaper publication of legal or public notices applicable to cities, towns, and counties. This is okay, but we need to watch to make sure they do not recommend severely curtailing public notification. WATCH.

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. OPPOSE.

Thursday, February 11, 2010
House Water and Energy Committee at 9:00 a.m. in House Hearing Room 5

HB2573 cities; water softeners; salts (Mason) allows cities to regulate water softeners. This is an issue as we increase the salinity of our water via wastewater discharges. SUPPORT.

HB2574 renewable energy districts (Mason, Boone, Ch Campbell, et al) allows public improvement districts for the acquisition, installation and improvement of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements and water conservation improvements, including solar energy systems, combined heat and power systems, rainwater harvesting equipment and systems and gray water systems. SUPPORT.

HB2576 heat and power tax credit (Mason, Nelson, Antenori, et al) provides for tax credits for combined heat and power (CHP) with an annual cap of $1 million. This is the most efficient way to use natural gas and these measures can help us transition to clean renewable energy sources. We continue to support this bill, but do think the legislature must look carefully at all tax credit provisions. SUPPORT.

Senate Committee on Government Institutions at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1

SB1348 regulatory review; rule making (Burns) makes it more difficult for agencies to implement protective rules and establishes a Commission on privatization and such. It is pretty clear they are looking to weaken things as much as possible — as if we weren’t already headed to the bottom. OPPOSE.

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 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. 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. For more information on bills we are tracking, go to http://arizona.sierraclub.org/political_action/tracker/ Thank you!

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