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Georgia Water Coalition Legislative Update 
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GWC Legislative Tracker
Legislative Update Number 8 (March 3, 2017)

Today is Day 28, otherwise known as Crossover Day—the last day in the session for a bill to pass its original chamber and have a chance to become law. 12 days remain in the 40-day session. The session will resume next Monday for Day 29. The 2017 legislative session will end on Thursday, March 30. See the calendar here.
 
GWC Priority Issues

Ensuring Safe, Secure Disposal and Storage of Coal Ash Wastes
This week the Georgia House Natural Resources and Environment committee declined to pass legislation that would notify residents when toxic pollutants are being dumped into nearby rivers, lakes and landfills. 

HB 387 - Requires the closure of unlined coal ash ponds and the testing and treatment of the water before pumping it into lakes, rivers and streams.
 
HB 388 - Requires municipal solid waste landfills to modify their permits and notify the public before receiving large volumes of coal ash, be sited away from groundwater supplies and wetlands, and monitor groundwater for pollution.
 
GWC has created resources for you to learn more about this issue.

Georgia Water Coalition supports both HB 387 and HB 388.
 
Status: Both 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: Friday is Crossover Day at the Capitol.  Residents and concerned citizens are urging the House of Representatives to pass this legislation before it’s too late. Contact your House Representative and tell them to support the bills and stop the secret dumping of coal ash into our rivers.
 
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?  We have studied buffers for decades in Georgia.  We know the “Sound Science” will tell us that bigger and wider buffers are necessary for water quality and fish and wildlife.  What do we want to see from the study committee?  We 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, we support 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 has been passed by the House, and will now go to the Senate for consideration. SR 152 has passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.
 
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
 
This week, after vigorous negotiations and some valiant efforts by our friends, the House Rules Committee amended HB271 again. The bill, which updates the Shore Protection Act, contained a redefinition of “sand dune” that would have removed vegetated sand dunes from the sand sharing system. While the removal of this bad definition is a huge victory, the bill still contains problematic language as it moves into the Senate.
 
Currently the method for determining the jurisdictional area in the Shore Protection Act is out of date and difficult to understand and enforce. Slight changes were made this week to the determination method but they will not protect some of the most rapidly eroding areas of our coast. Members of the Georgia Water Coalition are preparing to work with members of the Senate to ensure further amendments to the bill are made so that our coast receives the protection it deserves.
 
Status: The bill has passed out of the House and will be scheduled for first reading in the Senate in the upcoming weeks.
 
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 Rally for Honesty in Trust Fund Appropriations
On March 1, citizens from across the state gathered at Liberty Plaza adjacent to the state capitol for a rally and press conference to raise support for HR 158, a measure that will 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.
 
At the rally, we used 500 scrap tires to construct the Scrapitol, a replica of our state capitol, to symbolize our frustration with the current system and serve as a call for change. We hope legislators heed our call and pass HR 158.


Media Coverage

From the AJC: http://www.myajc.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/tired-misappropriation-georgia-activists-seek-honest-use-funds/h18cerzVscUMq5DveU80eJ/

A visit to the state 'Scrapitol'
Joe Cook, who's with the Coosa River Basin Initiative, explains that he and others built a 'Scrapitol' of scrap tires outside the state Capitol in Atlanta in protest of the state collecting certain fees - for things like tire cleanup - but then spending the money elsewhere.
Click for Video
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Georgia Water Coalition
c/o Dana Skelton
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(706) 549-4508
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