Some legislative news since the last update: Both the dam safety and the phosphorus fertilizer bills passed the House and Senate (the dam bill was a cliff-hanger – passed on December 31, the last day of the session). The phosphorus lawn fertilizer restrictions have become law – the dam bill awaits the governor’s signature.
This year the Alliance expects to support a water banking bill, to enable municipalities to collect dedicated fees from ratepayers to pay for stormwater management, wastewater treatment improvements, or environmental costs associated with the provision of water supply.
Here is an update, at the close of the legislature’s formal session, on bills that we have been following. Please note that bills sometimes continue to move in informal session, particularly if they are considered “small” or noncontroversial issues, so the story may not be over quite yet for all of these (in particular, the dam bill and the phosphorus bill).
1. Dam Safety bill - unfortunately, despite heroic efforts on the part of TNC’s Steve Long and a diverse coalition of environmental and municipal groups, this bill did not come up for a vote. Would have provided funding for the repair and/or removal of unsafe dams. Stay tuned. (The Alliance supported this bill)
2. Bottle bill – Passed the Senate, did not come up for a vote in the House. Would have updated the bottle bill by adding new beverages such as bottled water and sport drinks. Had the strong support of an energetic coalition led by MASSPIRG. (The Alliance supported this bill).
3. Anti-MESA bill – Would have gutted the state’s Endangered Species Act. Mass Audubon led a very large group of environmentalists and sportsmen opposed to this bill. Died in committee; a compromise did not pass. (The Alliance opposed this bill).
4. Bill restricting phosphorus in lawn fertilizers – would have put in place some restrictions on the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizer. Supported by Mass Audubon and Mass Municipal Association. Was not voted on in formal session. (The Alliance supports the concept; would prefer a stronger bill).
5. Sustainable Water Resources Act – would have introduced stream flow standards into water permitting. This one is on hold until the Sustainable Water Management Initiative (which includes stream flow criteria) is completed. (The Alliance supported this bill).
Thanks to our partners and members for your work on behalf of river-friendly legislation, and for speaking out against bills that would harm our rivers.
Proposed legislation to ban phosphorus in lawn fertilizer
On January 24, we delivered a letter signed by 33 environmental organizations to Rep. Brian Dempsey, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, requesting their favorable review of a bill that would greatly limit the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizer. You can find the text of the bill at http://www.malegislature.gov/
Check this space for updates as the bill moves forward.
Proposed State Legislation:
The Massachusetts Legislature’s Environment Committee held a public hearing on the Sustainable Water Resources Act (SWRA) on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 at 10:00 A.M. at the State House in Boston. But there is still time to submit written testimony and we urge you to do so. Go to Sustainable Water Resources Act (S.B.349/H.B.255) for detailed information about the bill, as well as a Fact Sheet and other helpful documents.