Legislation

One key arena for pushing for positive measures to help clean the Wasatch Front’s dirty air is the State Legislature. Each spring when they meet, Utah’s legislature has its hands on everything from funding transit, to incentivizing cleaner vehicles, to controlling building codes, to determining the rules and budgets for the agencies that monitor and control industrial pollution.

rallypostersIn 2013, HEAL leapt headfirst into helping a small group of legislators develop proposals for the 2014 Legislative Session. And, ultimately, it was easily the most successful year ever for air quality legislation— thanks to your activism, the efforts of the clean air community and, especially, the dedication of a core group of State Legislators.

Since 2013, HEAL has grown to be one of the most influential and effective advocacy groups at the State Legislature. Here are just a few accomplishments from the 2016 session:

  • We helped to ensure a transition to cleaner burning hot water heaters. This important legislation, which required the phasing in of ultra-low NOx water heaters, will significantly help to reduce pollution from our building sector — the sector projected to soon become our largest source of emissions. 
  • Similarly, in just 24 hours, our members sent over 2,000 emails asking key Utah State Legislators to adopt commonsense updates to our energy code. Although we still have a lot of room for improvement, for reduced building emissions and improved efficiency, HEAL successfully pushed for substantial changes.
  • Finally, HEAL was instrumental in pushing legislators to increase the amount of time allotted to our state regulators to prosecute companies that violate their permit limits. Instead of only having a one year statute of limitations, Utah now has a two-year statute of limitations to prosecute these polluters. 

We are proud of these accomplishments, but this is only the beginning. HEAL’s policy team is already busy researching and vetting new bills to champion for the 2017 session.

Work To Do

Despite our past successes, several key measures failed last year— proposals that we think could have had even greater impact for years to come. One of those was an appropriation request to update our aging fleet of air quality monitoring equipment.  Of the $2.2 million dollars in funding requested, only $1 million was allocated. Additionally, an important Division of Air Quality program called CARROT failed to receive any financing to help replace and retrofit some of the most polluting small engines. We are already working hard to generate grassroots pressure to support these essential programs during the 2017 session.

And so, as we get closer to next year’s legislative session, much work remains to be done to build on last year’s successes. HEAL continues to work hard to encourage legislators to make clean air bills a priority, to research and champion innovative proposals and to strategize to build winning coalitions.

Clean air is a nonpartisan issue – and with your help, we’re going to continue to chip away at the obstacles to making northern Utah as pristine, safe and beautiful as it can be.

Resources

SIGN UP FOR CLEAN AIR ACTION ALERTS
FIND YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS
UTAH STATE LEGISLATURE


Recent Posts about Clean Air Legislation…

NEWS: Environmental groups want the governor to veto wood-burning bill

Salt Lake Tribune
Published by: Emma Penrod
February 21, 2017

 

 

Clean air activists want Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a bill that would prevent the state from regulating wood smoke used to cook food.

Representatives of both HEAL Utah and Breathe Utah are opposed to HB65, which has already passed the House and Senate. The bill would require the state Division of Air Quality (DAQ) to permit wood burning, even during mandatory no-burn days, if the purpose of the fire was to cook.

Opponents argued that the language was too vague and would render the DAQ restrictions on wood burning impossible to enforce, but conceded that allowing wintertime backyard barbecues probably wouldn't have a substantial impact on Utah's air quality.

But an amendment in the Senate broadened the scope of the bill, making it pertain to not just a family cookout but also commercial operations.

That change has drawn ire from the environmental community.

... To read the full article, please click here...

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News: House Approves Bill To Scrap Solar Subsidies

KUER
By: Whittney Evans
February 13, 2017

A bill to phase out the state’s tax credit for residential solar panel installations passed the Utah House on Monday.

House Bill 23 would end the state’s $2000 individual income tax credit by 2021.  Republican Representative Jeremy Peterson sponsored the bill. He said the tax credit is draining the state budget.

“It is expected that the cost of technology will actually decrease at the same rate of this tax credit,” Peterson said. “So consumers should not see a significant impact on the bottom line in trying to determine whether or not to make that purchase.”

... To read the full article, please click here...

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Week Four at the Utah State Legislature: The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly

NEW: The HEAL Utah Capitol Report!

Want to stay up to date with the Utah State Legislature? “The HEAL Utah Capitol Report,” is Fridays at 1:30 p.m.Stream it on Facebook Live or call (805) 309-2350 and enter the code 112-3337# 


There’s no way to sugarcoat it -- Last week was troubling. We saw two major bills get worse and but had a few sparks of hope. As usual, we will start with the good news and then dish out the bad.    

HB29 - Energy Efficient Vehicle Tax Credit Amendments from Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton) finally passed the House Rev and Tax Committee early last week. Apparently, the fourth time was the charm!  Utah’s tax credit for electric vehicles had expired in December of 2016 – this bill retroactively renews that credit. This will help to get more people in electric vehicles, which is a major boon for our airshed. Although the version which passed restricts those who are eligible to receive the credit to only those in the non-attainment area, providing this incentive will help boost the adoption of EVs and improve our air quality. Now this bill awaits a full House vote.

HB23 – Income Tax Credit Modifications from Rep. Jeremy Peterson (R-Ogden) – i.e. the Solar Phase-out Bill, passed the Senate Tax and Revenue committee on Friday. This compromise bill extends the solar tax credit, but gradually steps down the amount of the credit until 2021.  While HEAL would like to see the full credit extended longer, this bill gives assurance to Utah’s burgeoning solar market. The last stop for this bill will be the full Senate. 

SB154 - Solar Access Amendments from Sen. Lincoln Filmore (R-South Jordan), a bill to make it easier for residents of Homeowners Associations to get rooftop solar, was certainly this week’s highlight, despite some big concessions made in the bill. While it still gives HOAs the power to ban solar, this bill offers more leverage residents. This bill unanimously passed the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee (No thanks to the shade thrown by HOAs) and now moves to a full Senate vote before it will be kicked over to the House! 

Now onto the bad news:

HB65 - Air Conservation Act Amendments from Rep. Mike Schultz (R-Hooper) passed the Senate. This bill allows for wood burning on red air days, if the purpose is for cooking. The language of the bill is written so broadly that we clean air advocates fear it will embolden more people to burn, more often, in our already troubled airshed.  It also takes away the Division of Air Quality’s authority to regulate culinary burning in the future. The version passed by the Senate even went so far as to broaden the language to allow for both commercial and residential burning. This bill will return to the House for a concurrence vote, but we are not optimistic about the potential for stopping it there. The last chance to kill this bad bill will be on the Governor’s desk with a veto! 

HB11 - State Boards and Commissions Amendments brought by Rep. Norman Thurston (R-Provo) also passed both Senate votes. This bill removes the partisan requirement from 28 state boards and commissions – meaning that one political party can completely dominate each board. As we predicted, the Air Quality Board, the Water Quality board, Drinking Water Board and the Public Service Commission were all added back into the version that passed the Senate.  Adding the PSC is particularly troubling because basically the only rule governing the make up of this board was the requirement for bi-partisanship! Please urge your Rep to vote NO on HB11 when it comes back to the House for concurrence by clicking here

On deck next week:

HB134 - Emissions Testing Amendments, from Rep. Arent (D – Salt Lake City) will likely be heard for a full House on Tuesday!  This bill expands current emissions testing programs to require testing of passenger diesel vehicles. Clean air advocates experienced some pushback last week from a small minority of diesel drivers in Utah County who simply don’t want their vehicles tested --  click here to tell your Representative/Senator to support this important bill now! 

SJR09 - Joint Resolution on Climate Change by Senator Jim Dabakis (D- Salt Lake City) likely won’t be heard in the Senate Natural Resources Committee anytime soon (Thanks Sen. Margaret Dayton) but, there will be a press conference to urge a hearing for this important bill on Thursday, February 23, at 5:45 PM in Room 445 State Capitol. If you can make it, we’d love to see you there!

Get involved up on the Hill by helping us to lobby or attend a committee meeting! Just email our Grassroots Organizer, Noah Miterko, at noah@healutah.org. Floor time is getting longer this week and that means even more opportunities to get involved! 

Don’t forget to also tune in to HEAL’s Capitol Report, every Friday at 1:30pm. We give you the low-down on all the latest at the Capitol and with a hint of sarcasm.  See you there!

Onward!

Ashley Soltysiak | HEAL Policy Director 

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