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We are entering our third week at the 2018 state legislative session and I bet you’re wondering what is going on up there! Well, let us highlight a few bills we’re tracking for you.
If you’re interested in lobbying, we have a room reserved at the Capitol on Tuesday/Thursday mornings. Please contact Noah (firstname.lastname@example.org) to coordinate.
Now, onto the bills:
Bill: HB101 2nd Substitute
Title: Air Quality Emissions Testing Amendments
Sponsor: Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, Floor sponsor: Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo
HEAL Position: Support
Summary: This bill would require a diesel emissions testing program to be implemented in all counties that test emissions for gasoline vehicles. It has been amended in the past week to shift that requirement to a 3-year pilot program that exempts the 5 most recently manufactured model years, and requires that a report with failure rates and number of vehicles tampered be issued to legislature beginning in the second year. While this is not as strong as we hoped, it represents compromise and is a decent first step to getting a full testing program implemented in Utah County. This could help reduce emissions in Utah County’s air shed by 170 tons per year.
Status as of 2/5/18: The bill has been assigned to the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and the Environment standing committee, but has not yet been placed on an agenda. It likely will go to the committee sometime this week.
Title: Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments
Sponsor: Rep. Angela Romero, D, Assistant Minority Whip
HEAL Position: Support
Summary: HB171 targets those who illegally tamper with their diesel engines to emit the big black clouds of smoke that so many of us get stuck behind on the road. It increases fines for those who get caught emitting that black smoke, and also strengthens the line of reporting so that law enforcement has a mechanism to report those vehicles to the local health departments and the DMV.
Status as of 2/5/18: Assigned to the House Transportation Committee, but not yet been placed on an agenda. Could go to the committee this week or early next week.
Title: Freight Switcher Emissions Mitigation
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Handy
HEAL Position: Support
Summary: HB211 is a request for $2,000,000 from the general fund to be placed in a dedicated fund held by the Division of Air Quality to help pay for retrofits and replacements of old, dirty freight switcher diesel engines. Freight switchers are the locomotives that run 24/7 in a railyard, helping to load and unload cargo and move it around. Freight switcher engines tend to be excessively dirty because they are built to last – so many of those that we have in the Salt Lake Valley are 40 or more years old. That means excess emissions, particularly NOx emissions, are produced by these locomotives. Retrofits are incredibly expensive – nearly $2,000,000 per engine, so this fund is meant to help offset some of those costs.
Status as of 2/5/18: The bill has been assigned to House Natural Resources, Agriculture and the Environment standing committee, but also has not been placed on an agenda.
Summary: Both resolutions recognize climate change as a problem which Utah will have to address. However, 001 is straight to the point in the causes of climate change (man) and how significant a problem the issue is. 007 is much more tuned to a Utah audience by focusing on pathways for economic development and job creation.
Status as of 2/5/18: Both resolutions are set to appear before the House Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Environment Committee this Friday, February 9th in the afternoon. Stay tuned for updates and ways you can make your voice heard on these important results recognizing climate change and its effects on Utah.
Bill: HB 261
Title: Renewable Energy Amendments
HEAL Position: Neutral
Summary: The bill would allow for Rocky Mountain Power to directly take advantage of the Investment Tax Credit with utility-scale solar power. Currently, the utility has to go through a third party to fully apply for the credit. While it is a positive step that the utility is looking to invest more in solar it is important for the private solar industry not to be left behind. The solar industry has invested billions of dollars into the state and should not be cut of competing for projects. HEAL hope the bills sponsor Rep. Knotwell, Rocky Mountain Power, and the solar industry can come to a compromise. Until then HEAL remains neutral party till an agreement happens.
Status of 2/5/18: The bill has been assigned to the House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology committee. Negotiations are ongoing but as of now, the bill will be heard later this week. Stay tuned for updates.
Bill: HB 169 1st Substitute
Title: Commercial Waste Fee Amendments
Sponsor: Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman, Majority Assistant Whip
HEAL position: OPPOSE
Summary: Reduces the annual permit and inspection fees for Energy Solutions by the amount of taxes they pay. Shifts $1.7 million of Energy Solution regulatory fees to the taxpayer. Makes it cheaper for them to import more nuclear waste.
Status as of 2/5/18: The bill passed out of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee on 1/25 on an 11-2 vote. A HEAL Action Alert went out last Monday when we thought the bill was due to come up for a vote in the House. The alert resulted in several productive discussions with legislators (thank you!). The House calendar is moving slowly and they still did not get to it by the end of the week. The bill is now #7 on the House reading calendar and will likely get a house floor vote early this week. HEAL will continue to watch this bill closely and send updates and alerts as needed.
We’ll continue to keep you updated throughout the session, but if you have direct questions, please contact me (Jessica@healutah.org) or Michael (Michael@healutah.org).
Jessie Reimer | Policy Associate
P.S. HEAL Is hiring! Apply to be our Communications & Outreach Associate today!