Legislative Week Three: A Series of Unfortunate Events

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What started as a rather mundane week at the Utah State Legislature turned into a hotbed of activity by last Friday. So, grab your stress ball and read on:

 HB29 Energy Efficient Vehicle Tax Credit Amendments from Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton) was held again in the House Rev and Tax Committee. This critical bill renews Utah’s tax credit for electric vehicles, which expired at the end of 2016. Providing this incentive will help boost the adoption of EVs and improve our air quality. Unfortunately, due to fiscal concerns, the bill was held in the committee. It will be heard for a third time again today (Monday), at 8am in room 445 of the main State Capitol building! This bill really needs to pick up the pace if it is going to clear both houses before the session’s end in a mere three weeks!

HB65 Air Conservation Act Amendments from Rep. Mike Schultz (R-Hooper) which forbids state regulators from making rules about wood burning when it’s used for cooking, passed the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee. The ambiguous language of the bill could lead to even more wood burning on red air days and preempts the authority of our state regulators! We still hold out hope that this dangerous bill will be amended on the Senate floor to restrict it to only apply to devices specifically manufactured for cooking, but frankly it’s not looking promising. Apparently, arguments such as one offered by Senator Margaret Dayton – that the rights of a few to have a campfire and cook a marshmallow override the rights of all to clean air – are winning the day.

HB11  State Boards and Commissions Amendments was brought by Rep. Norman Thurston (R-Provo) and was heard in the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee on Friday. This bill removes the partisan requirement from 24 boards and commissions around the state – and could result in Utah’s key environmental and utility boards being dominated by one political party (guess which?). The version that was passed in committee is the same that passed the full House vote, but a far more troubling version brought by Senate co-sponsor Sen. Margaret Dayton (R-Orem) is waiting in the wings. Dayton’s fourth substitute adds back in the Air Quality Board, the Water Quality board, Drinking Water Board and the Public Service Commission – three major boards which have great influence over Utah’s public health, environment and energy sectors. Click here to tell your Senator to vote NO on this troubling bill and its substitute. 

HCR 18 Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Utahns to Consider the Smog Rating When Purchasing a Vehicle from Rep. Patrice Arent (D–Salt Lake City) unanimously passed a committee on Friday — A small but significant bright spot of the week! 

This week, we anticipate several major battles:

Perhaps the most significant will be for Air Quality Monitoring Appropriations, which are struggling to receive funding. The last push will be Tuesday morning in the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Joint Appropriations Committee! Click here to urge your Representative & Senator to support these important improvements! Without accurate air quality data we will not be able to comply with federal health requirements now or ever! This one is critical.

HB297 Renewable Energy Amendments from Rep. Steve Handy (R-Layton) modifies a bill that passed two years ago, colloquially known as the “eBay bill.” This bill would make it easier for companies to procure more renewable energy. This bill comes to the House Public Utilities, Energy and Technology today, at 2pm, in room 450 State Capitol.

HB134 Emissions Testing Amendments from Rep. Arent (D – Salt Lake City) is an important bill that will likely be heard by the full House some time this week. This bill makes it so that any county with an emissions testing program will have to test light/medium duty diesels. Last week, this bill got some major support in the form of a resolution from the Provo Mayor’s Office and the Provo City Council! It is currently Number 52 on the House 3rd Reading Calendar, so will likely be heard late this week.

So not to fear, we’re only halfway done. Perhaps best said in the words of Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” — and getting involved this week couldn’t be easier!

  • Shoot an email to our new Grassroots Organizer, Noah Miterko, at noah@healutah.org to try out citizen lobbying with HEAL’s policy team! Floor Time is scheduled on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 10-12pm and Wednesday and Friday from 10-12pm and 2-4pm. That means you’ve got a number of excellent opportunities to connect with lawmakers and hold them accountable! 
  • Don’t forget to also subscribe to our Clean Air Text Action Network by texting the phrase “cleanair” to 41411. By doing so, you’ll receive additional action alerts, events, and updates!
  • Also, don’t forget to tune into the HEAL Utah Capitol Report, a live weekly update from our Policy Team, every Friday at 1:30pm

Onward!

Ashley Soltysiak | HEAL Policy Director 

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