As of August, 2012
On July 31, 2012, the Massachusetts Legislature adjourned for the year. All bills that did not pass in 2012 will need to be reintroduced in January, 2013 and will be given new bill numbers. WAA anticipates that the following bills will probably be re-introduced (please check back in January or February of 2013 for a list of environmental legislation and bill numbers). For those of you interesting in making sure that pro-watershed bills are enacted!
The State Environmental Budget
WAA actively advocates for additional funding for environmental programs every year and next year is unlikely to be any different. Funding for environmental agencies has been cut 30% over the last 10 years, although last year it went up slightly. We’ll be seeking the help of our members and friends to contact their legislators at the appropriate time.
Anti-Endangered Species Protection bill
After and outcry by environmental and watershed groups (including WAA), progress on this terrible bill was halted late in last session. The bill that would have effectively undermined protection of threatened and endangered species. The bill will be introduced next year. However, enough legislators feel that there are unresolved questions around how MESA is implemented, so we hope that going forward we can have constructive conversations about the program.
Sustainable Water Resources Act
Last year, this legislation would have required the adoption of stream flow standards that are protective of natural aquatic life, provide a balance among uses, and preserve the source from which the public water supply came (generally, underground aquifers).. It would also have allowed water or sewer districts to collect a fee to offset the impacts of water withdrawals or the transfer of wastewater out of the watershed that the water originally came from. Finally, the bill would have revised the dam safety regulations to make removal of obsolete dams as easy as repairing them (it’s already generally less expensive). Dam safety fines would have been increased, and a comprehensive list of dams, including those that are abandoned or no longer serve a public use would be created. Whether this bill will be introduced next year in exactly this form is uncertain.
Expanded Returnable Bottle Bill
A bill to require a 5 cent deposit on “sports drinks and other non-carbonated beverages went further than ever last year, passing the House. It never received a vote in the Senate, though and was not adopted. This bill will no doubt be refilled next year.