Climate Utah 2/19 update - action alerts
Below are some of the significant bills coming up this week. As always, we are updating our 2023 legislative tracker in real time as things change.
You can look up your district and contact information for your legislators here. Legislators respond best when we are respectful and appreciative, and when we are clear about what we are asking them to vote for or against. If you're emailing a legislator, include the bill number and title in the subject of the email, and include your address and contact information in your signature.
All of the committee hearings are being streamed online, and you can request to testify about a bill as a member of the public.
HB220 - Emissions Reduction Amendments
This started out as a huge bill seeking to reduce emissions of all criteria pollutants by 50% by 2030. It has now been changed to narrowly target reducing bromine and chlorine emissions by 90% by 2026. A recent study found that emissions of those chemicals from the US Magnesium refinery are responsible for 10-25% of the PM2.5 along the Wasatch Front.
This bill will be heard in the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committeeon Wednesday the 22nd at 8:00 am. Committee members are Reps. Brooks, Lund, Bennion, Bolinder, Chew, Jimenez, Kohler, D. Owens, T. Peterson, Schultz, Shipp, Snider, Stratton, and Watkins. If your representative is on that committee, please contact them and ask them to support the bill. This can be as simple as "I am calling to ask Representative [insert name] to vote Yes on HB 220 - Emissions Reduction Amendments."
SB97 - Public Contract Requirements - oppose
This bill would expand Utah’s law barring contracts with companies that boycott Israel to also include companies with "subjective boycotts" on any of a long list of topics including fossil fuels. It is anti free market, and sends an unwelcome message to high-tech and clean energy businesses that might want to locate in Utah. The bill was drafted at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It did not pass a vote there because it increases state power at the expense of the free market.
The bill passed the Senate 19-6 and now heads to the House. It will likely be sent to the House Business and Labor Committee. Committee members are Reps. Maloy, Whyte, Albrecht, Brammer, Brooks, Burton, Dunnigan, Hawkins, King, Matthews, Musselman, T. Peterson, Schultz, and Wilcox. If your representative is on that committee, please contact them and ask them to oppose the bill.
HB301 - Transportation Tax Amendments - oppose
This bill creates a new 12.5% tax for electric vehicle charging at public charging stations. It also raises registration fees by $5 for all vehicles and reduces the gas tax by 2 cents a gallon. The purpose of the tax is to raise revenue from out of state drivers passing through Utah, but by cutting the gas tax the bill actually reduces out of state revenue and shifts the burden to Utah drivers through higher registration fees. EV drivers already contribute to road funding through an extra registration fee. Under this bill, EV drivers who can charge at home would see little change, but renters and apartment owners who have to use public chargers would end up paying about twice as much as drivers of gasoline cars.
Tracy Harden from Wasatch Back CCL testified against the bill in the House committee. Well done, Tracy! You can listen to her testimony here.
The bill passed the House 56-11 and is now in the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee. Committee members are Senators McCay, Bramble, Cullimore, Escamilla, Fillmore, Harper, Ipson, and C. Wilson. If your senator is on the committee, please contact them and ask them to oppose the bill.
This year, a lot of the key action will be in appropriations requests rather than bills. Many of the good ones were prioritized by the appropriations committees and will probably make it into the final budget. You can see all the requests we are watching on the legislative tracker. One that was not prioritized was the $100 million request from the governor for "Great Salt Lake salinity management" - for purchasing short-term water rights leases from agriculture in order to deliver more water to the lake.
The final budget decisions will be made by the Executive Appropriations Committee. Committee members are Senators Stevenson, Ipson, Adams, Cullimore, Escamilla, Millner, Pitcher, Plumb, Riebe, and Vickers, and Reps. V. Peterson, Spendlove, Dailey-Provost, Hollins, Lesser, Lisonbee, Moss, Romero, Schultz, and B. Wilson. If you are in one of these districts, now would be a great time to ask for their support for this and the other Great Salt Lake appropriations.