The Arizona’s First Regular Session of the 55th Legislature has been moving along at a pretty fast and steady pace. A total of 40 bills have already been sent to the Governor’s desk; and 32 of those have been signed into law with the remaining eight bills under consideration. These bills were fast tracked through the process because most of them were close to being sent to the Governor’s desk last session prior to COVID prematurely ending the session. To fast track a bill, an identical bill (“mirror bill”) is introduced in both chambers and ran simultaneously with an agreement between the sponsors of each bill that either the House Bill (“HB”) will be Third Read (voted) in the House, transmitted to the Senate and then substituted out for the Senate Bill (“SB”), Final Read (voted) and then transmitted to the Governor or vice versa.
Of the 40 bills transmitted to the Governor, 10 to be exact (discussed below) impact the natural resources, environment, energy and water policies, activities and/or industries.
Modifies the current requirements for the State Mine Inspector (“SMI”) from having at least four years of experience in the mining industry or that which is regulated by the SMI, to the more comprehensive requirements of the SMI having:
- At least eight years of experience consisting of direct operational or management experience with mining operations at a mine;
- At least four years of mining experience in Arizona;
- Knowledge of all state and federal mine safety and health regulations;
- To annually complete mine safety and health continuing education.
Permits the state, a political subdivision or any governmental entity to remove noxious weeds (i.e. “any plant species that is, or could be, harmful or destructive and difficult to control or eradicate” (A.R.S. § 3-201(4)), such as Salt Cedar Trees, during maintenance operations and Capitol projects.
Adjusts the formula used by the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) to calculate its required replenishment reserve of long-term storage credits.
“Clarifies that class V wells that have permits under the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit programs are not exempt from aquifer protection permit requirements.”
Requires all newly installed underground storage tanks and piping components (“UST”) to comply with the recently implemented federal regulations pertaining to the secondary containment performance standards and release detection requirements for interstitial monitoring.
“Allows those who are entitled to use water to file a conservation plan notice describing conservation measures that they will implement and allows them to file and refile this notice for up to ten years. Exempts the water rights and claims in this notice from abandonment or forfeiture.”
“Extends exemptions for irrigation water duties, conservation requirements and groundwater withdrawals for the Buckeye Waterlogged Area (BWLA) through December 31, 2034.”
“Requires the State Land Department (Department) to accept state land lease renewal applications by mail and electronically and prohibits the Department from considering how an application was submitted when determining whether to renew a lease.”
“Make several changes to the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP)and Voluntary Vehicle Repair and Retrofit Program (VVRRP). Conditions enactment of some VEIP changes on the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Arizona’s vehicle emissions testing protocols.”
“Allows a water provider in the Pinal Active Management Area (AMA) to retain the volume of groundwater and stored water approved in its most recent designation of assured water supply (AWS) without further hydrologic review. Also allows developers to increase the number of housing units or lots on subdivision plats associated with existing AWS certificates in this AMA.”