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Environmental Report Card Released for AZ Legislature, Governor

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The 2023 Arizona legislative session was the longest session on record, officially spanning 204 days and finally wrapping up on July 31. (Adobe Stock)
The 2023 Arizona legislative session was the longest session on record, officially spanning 204 days and finally wrapping up on July 31. (Adobe Stock)

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 Alex Gonzalez, Producer

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Friday, September 1, 2023   

Grades are in for Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Arizona Legislature. The Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club and Chispa Arizona this week released this year’s environmental report card in English and Spanish.

The groups gave Hobbs an “A” for what they called her effective vetoes which stopped “a plethora of anti-democracy and anti-environmental bills,” and gave most legislators in the Republican caucus an “F” for proposing such legislation.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter, said Hobbs’ veto stamp “got quite the workout,” as more than 200 bills aimed to limit early voting or implement more voting restrictions.

“One of the reasons Sierra Club and Chispa work so hard to protect democracy is we can’t adequately protect our air, our water, lands, wildlife or address the climate crisis if we are not protecting and strengthening our democratic processes,” she said.

Bahr highlighted that Arizona Republicans passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 1015, which requires 10% of signatures from voters in each of the state’s legislative districts for initiatives and referenda. The measure will be on the ballot in 2024, with opponents saying it would make it more difficult to qualify a measure for the ballot.

Environmentalists have said the Legislature refused to consider the major environmental issues Arizona is facing and lacked action on climate resiliency and environmental justice. They have said it is important to highlight that the governor did establish an Office of Resiliency, but that they realize it takes both houses of the Legislature and the governor to properly address environmental concerns.

Historically, said Vania Guevara, Chispa Arizona advocacy deputy director, the Arizona Legislature hasn’t been a welcoming place, particularly for people of color.

“They definitely still figured out how to live up to that reputation this session,” she said. “While it was incredibly difficult hearing some of the representatives speak the way they did about communities of color in certain committee hearings, our community members were steadfast, resilient and still showed up.”

Guevara said there were some wins this session, which included the Trees for Kids Bill, which will make funds available to invest in tree shade for low-income schools across the state, as well as Chispa Arizona’s youth group having met with the governor to discuss environmental issues.