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Legislative Update -3-28-2014 

Sarah Luna, Legislative Liaison                                   Arizona Legislature – Bill Status
legislativeliaison@azwildlife.org                                   http://azleg.gov/Bills.asp                                           

The AZ State Legislature convened on January 13, 2014, 
and the scheduled adjournment date is 4-26 
(the Saturday of the week of the 100th day in session which is April 22).


AWF in Congress

AWF’s Legislative Liaison Sarah Luna accompanied Ben Alteneder, AGFD, Steve Clark, AZ Elk Society, and Matthew Crozier, Northern Arizona Audubon, on this year’s Teaming with Wildlife D.C. Trip in February.  The focus of this year’s trip was obtaining Congressional support for funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, an efficient and effective funding program which has generated millions in partner support dollars to maintain and protect habitats. The Arizona team met with Arizona Members of Congress and/or staff representing each of Arizona’s Congressional Districts.

AWF at the State Legislature

AWF co-sponsored Western Rivers Day at the Arizona Legislature on Tuesday, March 11, along with Trout Unlimited and statewide Audubon Chapter leaders. AWF and other organizational leaders met with House and Senate leadership, Resource Committee members, miscellaneous legislators from across the state, Governor Brewer’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor Kevin Kinsall and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Michael Lacey.  As a result of this meeting, AWF will join other partners in routine conference calls with these high level officials to discuss resource issues.

Key Session Deadlines:
February 3
 -Deadline for Senate bill Introduction. 
February 10 -Deadline for House bill introduction. 
February 21 -Last day to hear Senate bills in Senate committees And House bills in House committees.
March 21 -Last day to hear Senate bills in House committees and last day to hear House bills in Senate committees.
April 18 -Last day for Conference Committees.
April 22 -100th Day of Session
 


AWF Opposes AGFD HB 2127 Striker BillAt the March BOD meeting in Tucson, AWF Directors voted unanimously (with one abstention) to oppose striker bill HB 2127 which was proposed by the AGFD  to modify the use of funds established for land acquisition (40%) of the IIAPM (Identification, Inventory, Acquisition, Protection and Management) Heritage Fund program.  On March 17 AGFD Commissioners passed an amended motion to withdraw support for HB 2127, with a provision that staff report back to the Commission in a public meeting scheduled for March 28 on the funding and expenditures used to acquire wildlife-related properties, with a long-term solution to be developed by September 1 that includes certain stipulations.

Thank you to Bob Vahle for representing AWF at the March 17 meeting.  For more information see his statement Vahle Statement 0314.

The Department is to work with miscellaneous stakeholders through the summer to develop the long-term legislative solution.  AWF will be actively involved in this process.


Also of Interest:

Forest Health Management - Another striker of interest  - HB 2343 - strike-everything amendment  - legislation now forest health management - This striker grants immunity to the State Land Department and its employees for action related to the statute.  Environmental groups feel that this is inappropriate and could result in protecting irresponsible and negligent individuals and behavior and are also concerned that the bill focuses on removing vegetation and fire suppression rather than on restoring forests and grasslands.  (Passed by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, March 25.)

SB 1478 – Water Protection Fund – Mesquite, Tamarisk, etc. - prohibits the Arizona Water Protection Fund from being used to plant mesquite, tamarisk, or other non-native high water use trees and also promotes the removal of those same trees.   Very controversial.


Two bills have been sponsored by the AGFD:

HB 2303
Transfer of Big Game Permits to Disabled Veterans - The Game and Fish Commission is authorized to prescribe the manner and conditions of transferring and using big game permits and tags to allow a person to transfer a permit or tag to a qualified organization for use by a veteran of the U.S. armed forces who has a service-connected disability. (Passed by the House by a vote of 57-3 on 2-10.  Senate Natural Resources-Rural Affairs Committee passed 3-12.)

SB 1118Criminal Trespassing – Taking of Wildlife - The list of circumstances under which the entry of a person for the taking of wildlife is grounds for an action for criminal trespassing is expanded to include that the person knowingly remains unlawfully on the property after a reasonable request to leave by a law enforcement officer acting at the request of the owner. (Passed by the Senate by a vote of 30-0 on 2-20.  Placed on House Consent Calendar on 3-18.)

Supported by AGFD:

HB 2443Hunting Permits for Active Duty Military - Any active duty member of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Arizona for either permanent or temporary duty is permitted to purchase a residential license permitting the taking of wildlife. Previously, the member was required to be stationed in Arizona for a period of 30 days immediately preceding the date of application for the license.  (Passed by the House by a vote of 59-0 on 2-25.  Passed by Senate Natural Resources-Rural Affairs Committee on 3-19.)

Mexican Wolf Recovery - SB 1212Litigation Funding - Appropriates $250,000 from the general fund in FY2014-15 to the Department of Law for litigation expenses relating to any expansion of the Mexican Wolf recovery program in Arizona. The bill was amended by the sponsor. (Passed by the Senate by a vote of 16-14 on February 27. Would have failed had Senator Worsley not switched his vote! Passed by House Energy-Environment Committee on 3/11.)

HB 2003 - watercraft; civil and criminal penalties  - Establishes civil penalties for a person who operates a motorized watercraft and refuses to submit to a test for alcohol concentration or drug content, to be deposited in the Prison Construction and Operations Fun and the Law Enforcement and Boating Safety Fund. Monies from civil and criminal penalties for operating a motorized watercraft while under the influence are deposited in the Law Enforcement and Boating Safety Fund instead of the Public Safety Equipment Fund.

(Senate Judiciary Committee passed on 3-18.)

On the AGFD and AWF Watch Lists:

Budget
SB 1492 budget; brb; environment; FY2014-15 - Makes policy changes pertaining to environmental regulation that affect the state budget. The Arizona Water Protection Fund Commission is permitted to grant to the Department of Water Resources up to $336,000 of the unobligated balance in the Fund to pay for administrative costs of the Dept in FY2014-15. The Dept is authorized to increase fees in FY2013-14 to generate revenue up to $100,200. The Arizona State Parks Board is authorized to spend up to $692,100 from the Board’s portion of the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Fund in FY2014-15 for Board operating expenses. Suspends the administrative cap on the Underground Storage Tank Assurance Account for FY2014-15 and allows the Department of Environmental Quality to transfer a combined total of $6.5 million from the Account for administrative costs of the Dept. Caps the general fund appropriation to the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund at $7 million. The State Parks Board is required to establish the Yarnell Hill Memorial State Park subject to specified conditions. Establishes a 15-member Yarnell Hill Memorial Site Board (Site Board) to determine whether to establish a memorial dedicated to the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire at the location where the crew lost their lives, work with interested parties to design and construct the memorial, and solicit private monetary donations or public monies for deposit in the newly created Yarnell Hill Memorial Fund. The Site Board is required to submit a report on the progress of the memorial to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31, 2015. The Site Board self-repeals on January 1, 2017. Appropriates $500,000 from the general fund in FY2013-14 to the State Parks Board to purchase the Yarnell Hill Memorial site.   (Passed by the Senate by a vote of 16-13.)

SB 1211Wolf Taking - Permits an ADA employee to take any wolf that has been documented or caught in the act of killing livestock pursuant to an agreement between ADA and the USFWS. Allows a landowner or lessee, who is a livestock operator or their agents, to take a wolf if the wolf is:

a)    actually engaged in the act of killing, wounding or biting livestock;

b)    taken by livestock guarding dogs; or

c)    taken in self-defense of the lives of others and the take is reported as specified.

And other provisions

(Passed by the Senate by a vote of 18-12.  Passed by House Energy-Environment Committee on 3-11.)

SCR 1006 - Mexican Wolf PopulationStates that the members of the Legislature support focusing future Mexican Wolf introduction efforts on remote areas within the northern Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, support shifting primary responsibility for administration of the Mexican Wolf introduction program in Arizona and New Mexico to the game and fish departments of those states, and believe that private landowners in Arizona and New Mexico should be authorized to take Mexican Wolves that are killing, wounding or threatening humans, pets or livestock on private land. (Passed by the House Energy-Environment Committee on 3-11.)

SB 1267Monitoring of federal resource management issuesRequires the State Land Department, Department of Water Resources, Department of Environmental Quality and Arizona Game and Fish Department to monitor federal natural resource management issues that impact federal lands located in Arizona, encourage increased cooperation with federal agencies and submit comments as necessary regarding federal regulations impacting natural resource management of federal lands in Arizona, and inform the Legislature of federal natural resource management issues considered to be of statewide importance. (Everything was stricken from the original legislation – “Strike Everything” amendment adopted related to livestock cruelty on 2-19).

SB 1268 – Natural Resources Preservation Fund - Establishes the Natural Resource Protection and Preservation Fund, to be administered by the State Forester. An amount sufficient for the balance of the Fund to be at least an unspecified amount (blank in original) is appropriated from the general fund on July 1 of each year. Specifies conditions and purposes for which monies in the Fund may be spent. Appropriates an unspecified amount (blank in original) from the general fund in FY 2014-15 to the Fund.  (No further action scheduled or anticipated.)

SB 1292 - Arizona Resource Advisory Council - Establishes a 15-member Arizona Resource Advisory Council to act as an advisory body regarding the planning and management of federal land resources in Arizona. The Council must submit an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31 of each year. The Council terminates on July 1, 2024. (Passed by the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on 3-19.)

SB 1458 – Land Use for “Conservation Purposes”The County assessor is required to identify land used for "conservation purposes" (defined), and the Department of Revenue is required to create a new identifiable property use code for conservation land. (No further action scheduled or anticipated.)

HB 2699 – Restrict AGFD Participation in Federal ESA Under Defined Circumstances - The Game and Fish Department is required to cease participation in all programs under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 if they are "programs that were not cooperatively implemented" (defined). All species of wildlife that were introduced under these programs and offspring of that wildlife must be removed from Arizona by January 1, 2015. All threatened or endangered species programs in effect on the effective date of this legislation are terminated on August 31, 2014 unless the program is approved by a majority vote of the state Legislature. Establishes a Federal Reimbursement Fund consisting of monies obtained from the federal government by the Attorney General, to be used to reimburse persons who sustained losses from actions by wildlife that were introduced under programs that were not cooperatively implemented or other aspects of the programs. (Passed the House Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility on 2-20 – sponsor amendments anticipated!!!  Passed Senate Government-Environment  Committee on 3-21)

Miscellaneous conservation perspective:  It prohibits the Arizona Game and Fish and Department from participating in most, if not all, reintroduction programs under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It goes on to say that all species of wildlife that were introduced under programs that were not cooperatively implemented and offspring of the wildlife must be removed by January 1, 2015. Under the definition of cooperatively implemented provided in this bill, it would mean that Arizona Game and Fish could participate in very few, if any, of the reintroduction programs. These include programs for reintroduction and recovery of California condors, black-footed ferrets, Mexican gray wolves, and many native fish species.

Important status update here:
http://azdailysun.com/news/local/bob-thorpe-trims-wolf-proposal/article_71747632-a113-11e3-8c63-0019bb2963f4.html