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Legislative Update: Crossover Day 2013

March 12, 2013

Day 30 of the Georgia General Assembly’s legislative session has now come and gone. Thursday March 7 was Crossover Day, and it’s significant because in order to have hope of passage this session, any proposed legislation had to be approved by its chamber of origin (either the House or Senate) by Day 30.  Less then ten days remain in the 2013 session, and Day 40 is predicted to fall in late March.

The Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) tracked a number of bills, but here is a quick sampling of what survived one chamber and what lays in wait.

HB 199: Water Supply for Economic Security will allow funding from the Georgia Reservoir Fund to be used for water efficiency and conservation projects in addition to new reservoir projects and other water supply projects.  The GWC supports HB 199.

HB 127 and HB 276: Saving the Trust Funds.  HB 276 would renew the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund for a period of five years and proposes to reduce fees collected under this program if the funds are redirected to the general fund instead of their original purpose.  HB 127 will protect other trust funds’ revenue streams – like the Solid Waste Trust Fund – in a similar manner.  The GWC supports HB 127 and HB 276.

SB 213: Stealing Property Rights in the Flint River Basin.  The bill was amended to include a comprehensive study of the basin (including all permit types) and to outlaw aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) in the state of Georgia.  The GWC was unable to get the “stream flow augmentation” section struck from the bill.  As written, this bill will alter basic Georgia water law and threatens private property rights.  This bill sends taxpayer dollars to campaign donors at the expense of downstream farmers and riparian land owners.  And, experimental stream augmentation – via an expensive ASR test in south Georgia – will not resolve the tri-state water war.  The GWC opposes SB 213 as currently written.

SR 267: Healing Noyes Cut will address an issue featured in the 2012 Dirty Dozen Report, and that began in the early 20th century when a half-mile channel was dug through Georgia’s coastal marshlands for the purposes of moving timber to market via river barges. The channel, known as Noyes Cut, remains today and is wreaking havoc on migrating fish, blue crabs and boating routes near the mouth of the Satilla River. The Army Corps of Engineers did a study in the 1980s that recommended the closing of Noyes Cut to address these issues. SR 276 urges the United States Army Corps of Engineers to study this project to plug Noyes Cut within the Satilla River System.  GWC supports SR 267.

Since 2013 is the first of a two-year legislative cycle, some bills may get a second chance during the 2014 session.

HB 549: The Emergency Response bill creates a statutory mandate for emergency response to ensure that EPD’s emergency response program will be staffed and funded when budget decisions are made. The bill requires appropriate and timely responses to emergencies (like spills and fish kills) that threaten the state’s waters and proper public notification and coordination between the state and local communities to protect the health of our families during emergencies.  The GWC supports HB 549.

HB 225: Legislative Attempt to Rule EPD.  This roll-back would require the General Assembly to approve all the Board of Natural Resources’ adoptions, amendments, and modifications of the Environmental Protection Division’s rules and regulations prior to promulgation.  The GWC opposes HB 225.

HB357/SB 176: Another roll-back, the Amnesty for Polluters and toxics pollution of groundwater bill allows the director of the EPD to substitute a much less stringent state voluntary cleanup process in lieu of the federal process at hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities that require permits, which require public notice and public participation in the cleanup process.  This bill substantially weakens the requirements for hazardous waste site clean-up while also threatening groundwater protections and the private property rights of people who own land adjacent to hazardous waste sites.  The proposed bills have been tabled for further study during the summer.  GWC opposes these bills.

-Chris Manganiello

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 25, 2013 11:07 am

    Is your water safe? Unedited excerpts from local and national articles are available at http://www.midtennwaterproblem.com these articles will help you better understand what’s hidden in your most precious resource.

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