Senator Thomas, under his constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 436 and moved that the statement he made during the discussion of the bill be printed as his reasons for voting “no.”
The motion prevailed.
Senator Thomas’ statement is as follows:
I rise in opposition, very strong opposition, to this so-called environmental reform package of bills. If I may speak to Senate Bill Nos. 436, 438, and 439 all at once.
These bills manage to both undermine DEQ’s ability to protect the resources of our state while, at the same time, reducing their already insufficient funding. A frequent complaint heard in committee testimony, in the Economic Development and Regulatory Reform Committee, was that the department takes too long to process permits, particularly compared to other states. Statistics, those that we independently have sought, seem to refute this allegation. DEQ has produced a report which shows quite specifically that 97 percent of DEQ’s permit decisions were made within the required processing period. Of those, 98 percent were ultimately approved. In anybody’s measure, that’s an A-plus.
As for specifics, Senate Bill No. 436 reduces DEQ fees by half when licensed profession engineers prepare and submit permit applications. The 21-day time period given to DEQ to review these applications is unreasonably short and very hard to attain. Senate Bill No. 438 would require the use of stratified random sampling. Doing so would place several of the departments dedicated programs in conflict with federal regulations, guidance, and grant reports. Presumably, that is an inconsistency with legislation that is later going to come as a part of your reform package.
The efforts to structure a common method and procedure to evaluate environmental programs through benchmark analysis and peer reviews required under Senate Bill No. 439 fail to recognize the complexity and differences among those programs. This would create duplicative workloads already being done. Repeat—this would duplicate work already being done by the department.
These bills, quite frankly, are a solution in search of a problem. My colleagues should reject them, and we should go forward to more important legislative matters. I would ask that my colleagues vote “no.”
Senator Kahn, under his constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the adoption of the amendment offered by Senator Brater to Senate Bill No. 436.
Senator Kahn’s statement is as follows:
I voted “no” on this amendment, although I have to say the issue of Canadian trash is important in my district and, most certainly, would like to see it eliminated. The reason I voted “no” is that the amendment was technically flawed. I refer specifically to its being initiated with this statement: “Subject to subsection (3),” and then subsequently within the amendment, subsection (3) is deleted. So the amendment needs to be redone and recast.
This legislation reminds me of the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to implemwent wetland laws. They enacted the legislation and then had to secure consultants to do the work. It was an unnatural process.