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Georgia Water Coalition Legislative Tracker

March 13, 2017

Georgia Water Coalition Legislative Tracker
Legislative Update Number 9 (March 10, 2017)

Day 31 of the 2017 legislative session. Only 9 days remain in the 40-day session. The session will resume today, March 13 for Day 32. The 2017 legislative session will end on Thursday, March 30. See the calendar here.
http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20172018/164047.pdf

GWC Priority Issues

Ensuring Safe, Secure Disposal and Storage of Coal Ash Wastes
This year, three bills were introduced to deal with the issue of coal waste pollution in Georgia’s communities. Two of the bills (HB 387 and HB 388) were discussed last week in the House Natural Resources Committee. The bills’ sponsor, Rep Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick), offered amended versions that would require nearby property owners and communities to be notified before this waste is dumped in their landfills or streams. These bills were discussed, but no vote was taken. They remain in the House Natural Resources Committee.

What DID happen was that Committee Chairwoman Rep Lynn Smith (R-Newnan) set up an “ad hoc coal ash task force” with several legislators (Reps. Buddy Harden, R-Cordele; Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear; and Chuck Williams, R-Watkinsville) assigned to it.

A bill (SB 165) introduced by Sen William Ligon (R-Brunswick) has yet to receive a committee hearing in Senate Natural Resources Committee.

GWC has created resources for you to learn more about this issue.
HB 387 and HB 388 Fact Sheet
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/169a94009d1747cd19f1c62b3/files/9f563a92-29ad-452b-a9ea-97ffc28ed1cf/GWC_COAL_ASH_FACTSHEET_rev22417.pdf

Map of Coal Ash Ponds and Municipal Solid Waste Landfills in Georgia
https://www.gawater.org/coal-ash

Georgia Water Coalition supports SB 165, HB 387 and HB 388.

Status: Both House bills have stalled in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee. We want to move these bills out of committee and to the House floor for a vote today.

What You Can Do: Please encourage your Representative to reach out to Rep Lynn Smith, and ask to be placed on the ad hoc coal ash task force – especially if you live in one of the districts that may have a coal ash issue in it.

Find your Representative: http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/FindYourLawmaker.aspx

Contact: Emily Kurilla, Ogeechee Riverkeeper – emily@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

Buffers for State Waters Delayed
HR 362 and SR 152 establish a Joint Study Committee on Stream Buffers. The House and Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committees are using the Joint Study Committee as a delaying tactic, and to avoid the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act fix the GWC has been working on for two years. What’s the problem with a study committee? Buffers have been studied for decades in Georgia. The “Sound Science” will tell that bigger and wider buffers are necessary for water quality and fish and wildlife. What does GWC want to see from the study committee? GWC will not accept a reduction in the current 25’ buffer on all state waters and a 50’ buffer on trout waters, or other buffers designed to protect drinking water supplies. As a practical matter, GWC supports a study committee because hopefully it can resolve one specific thing: how to measure a buffer in the absence of “wrested vegetation.” That must be a driving question before the General Assembly in 2018.

Status: HR 362 passed the House and SR 152 passed the Senate. Each resolution must now be adopted by the other chamber before the study committee will be established.

What You Can Do: Please ask you Representative and Senator to help make sure that qualified environmental professionals with “experience in water resource management” from the GWC community are included as joint study committee members.

Contact: Chris Manganiello, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper – chris@chattahoochee.org

Other Issues the GWC is Tracking

House Bill 271 – Changing the Shore Protection Act to the Shore Destruction Act
Thanks to your calls and emails – the House amended HB 271 to remove some of the most appalling language. However, the bill still has significantly flawed language that puts coastal property and public land along the coast at risk.

The bill, which now sits in the Senate, would allow homes to be built only 25 feet from the ordinary high water mark along the coast’s most rapidly eroding shores. Currently, the provisions are more restrictive for state-owned property.

Status: Call or email members of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee. Ask them to fix HB 271 to eliminate the differentiation between public and private property so that the 100-foot measurement from the ordinary high water mark is required for land not protected by sand dunes or shoreline stabilization structures.

What You Can Do: Contact your Senator and ask him or her to support amendments to HB271.

Find your Representative: http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/FindYourLawmaker.aspx

Contact: Megan Desrosiers, One Hundred Miles – megan@onehundredmiles.org

Announcements
Georgians for Trust Fund Honesty
The rally and building of the “Scrapitol” last week received good press coverage. A resolution (HR 158) was introduced earlier this session to create a constitutional amendment allowing legislators to “dedicate” fees collected for programs like the Hazardous Waste and Solid Waste Trust Funds and finally end the annual legislative looting of these and other programs. The resolution currently resides in House Rules committee.

How you can help:
Please share some of the coverage of the rally last week with your Representative and urge them to support HR 158.

Items to share:
http://www.macon.com/latest-news/article135766973.html
http://www.myajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/tired-misappropriation-georgia-activists-seek-honest-use-funds/h18cerzVscUMq5DveU80eJ/

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