Legislature returns, little environmental movement

During the first week the legislature was back in session after Spring Break, little moved on environmental related legislation.

In fact, little moved overall. The Senate got tangled up with controversy as it dealt with a proposal to respond to the national healthcare legislation. Also, with another round of debate over bingo looming, little moved in the Senate.

However, the Senate finance committee adopted Governor Riley’s General Fund Budget, while the House Education Appropriations Committee approved the Education Budget.

The budgets are the primary work of the legislature, and several of the few remaining legislative days will likely be consumed dealing with budget issues. Therefore many pieces of legislation, environmental or otherwise, have a very narrow window to get passed this year.

Energy legislation remains the best bet for environmental bills to pass this session. The only energy bill to move last week was a bill that would encourage trucks to install idling technology to reduce fuel consumption. The House Commerce Committee gave the bill a favorable report, and it awaits full House approval.

Of the seven bills or resolutions offered by the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy this session, one has been enacted, a second is awaiting the governor’s signature, and two more are just one vote away from being sent to the governor for his consideration. Two bills – the sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances and financial incentives for increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses – have yet to get off the ground. Due to tight finances this year, it was going to be a hard fight for any legislation that could possibly impact state revenues.

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