Coming Down the Line: The Last Half of the Legislative Session

Can you believe we are into the 5th week of the 2018 Utah Legislative Session?

We at HEAL have been busy, busy: Our Policy Team, Michael Shea and Jessica Reimer are up on the Hill daily. We also have our Grassroots Organizer, Noah, helping folks learn to lobby their legislators. Are you interested in heading to the Capitol to support clean air, renewable energy, or the climate resolution? Email Noah for more information. Oh, and have we mentioned we’re hiring?! (Scroll to the bottom for more information.)

Need to get caught up with what’s happened already at the Legislature? Check out our 
Capitol Report to see weekly recaps of the bills we’re tracking.

Let’s talk bills, specifically….

*****But first, take this action alert – tell your Senator that you refuse to foot the bill for EnergySolutions (HB169 is the first bill summarized below). Please also share this link:  https://www.healutah.org/VoteNoHB169 with your social media networks. We need to send a strong message that EnergySolutions cannot pass off their expenses to Utah taxpayers just so they can import more TOXIC waste to our state!****

Bill: HB 169 1st Substitute
Title: Commercial Waste Fee Amendments
Sponsor: Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman,Majority Assistant Whip. Senate Floor Sponsor Sen. Daniel Hemmert
HEAL position: OPPOSE

Summary: Shifts $1.7 million of Energy Solution regulatory fees to the taxpayer.  Reduces the annual permit and inspection fees for Energy Solutions by the amount of taxes they pay. Makes it cheaper for them to import more nuclear waste.

Status as of 2/19/18: The bill passed the house on 2/5/18 on a 61-11-3 vote. It passed out of the Senate Business and Labor Committee on 2/12/18 on a favorable vote of 6-0-2 and is now moving its way up the calendar to a final vote of the full Senate. We will issue an action alert when that vote is coming up so you can call your state senators. That will be our last chance to stop this bill before it is sent to the Governor’s desk to sign. At that point a Governor’s veto is the only strategy left. 

On 2/18, KUER ran this story about the association of Energy Solutions campaign contributions and support for this the bill

Bill: HCR 007 1st substitute
Title: Concurrent Resolution on Economic and Environmental Stewardship

Summary: The resolution recognizes the existence of climate while championing Utah’s ability to mitigate its effects using the free market and job creation.  

Status as of 2/20/18: The resolution passed out of the House Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Environment Committee on an 8-3 vote. It is now waiting for a full house floor vote.

KUER article on resolution passing out of committee

Bill: HB 261 1st substitute
Title: Renewable Energy Amendments

Summary: The bill would allow Rocky Mountain Power to take advantage of a federal tax credit for large-scale solar power generation plants. Currently, the utility has to contract to a third party vendor to get the tax credit. A process which makes it more expensive for them to acquire solar directly. There were  concerns from the solar industry about fair competition issues, however, after negotiation, everyone is on board and HEAL fully supports the bill   

Status as of 2/20/18: The bill passed out of the Public Utilities, Energy and, Technology Committee with 8 yes votes. It now heads to the house floor. 

Bill: 2nd Sub HB 101:

Title: Air Quality Emissions Testing Amendments

Sponsor: Rep. Patrice Arent, Co-sponsor: Sen. Curt Bramble

Summary: Implements a 3-year pilot program for diesel emissions testing in Utah County, that include an exemption for the 5 most recent model years. This is a result of a compromise with Utah County Commissioner Ivie, who was concerned about implementing this program without sufficient data.

Status as of 2/20: Awaiting a vote on the House floor. It passed out of the House Natural Resources, Ag and Environment committee with a favorable recommendation last week.

Bill: 1st Sub HB 171:

Title: Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments
Sponsor: Rep. Angela Romero

Summary: Increases fines for diesel vehicles that blow black smoke from their tailpipe, and creates a line of communication between law enforcement and the local health departments that run the emissions testing programs. This will create better enforcement and stronger evidence for the health departments to report the vehicles if they continue to tamper with their emissions controls.

Status as of 2/20: Awaiting a vote on the House floor. It passed out of the House Transportation Committee with a favorable recommendation over a week ago.

Bill: HB 331 
Title: Air Pollution Mitigation Education Program

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Kennedy


Summary: This bill requires the Driver License Division and the State Board of Education to each create rules requiring the development and dissemination of educational information regarding ways drivers can help improve air quality; and the harmful effects of vehicle emissions

Budget Item:  $450,000 budget building block request for the Division of Air Quality reducing future operating permit fees $100,000; air monitoring equipment $200,000; air quality research $150,000. 

HEAL Position: Support

Status as of 2/20: Ranked #3 priority for budget increases by the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee.  Will be considered by the Executive Appropriations Committee when they finalize the budget. (FYI this committee does not take public testimony so the only way to provide input is through calls and emails.)

As you can see, there is a lot to do yet!
Are you interested in helping us lobby? Remember to contact Noah: Noah@healutah.org. 
You can also send emails or call your legislators directly. Head to the Utah State Legislative website to find any more information you might need.

And as always, let me know if you have any questions.

With Gratitude,

Scott Williams | HEAL Utah Executive Director

P.S. HEAL is hiring. Apply today to be our new Communications & Outreach Associate. Applications due Feb 28th!