Rep Mike Noel strong-arms HB135 through Committee
At about 7:00 pm on a Friday night, February 16, the House Natural Resources & Agriculture Committee voted not to pass the widely-hated HB 135. This was an initial victory for common sense and sustainability. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of the fight.
Sponsored by Rep Mike Noel, HB 135 is the water pollution bill that would prevent cities from regulating their water supply upstream of their treatment plants. Cities and towns are widely opposed to the measure for fear it will pollute water supplies and lead to rising water rates because of increased treatment costs.
Barely 24 hours before the committee meeting, the bill was made worse by adding a sneaky provision to fund two disastrous river diversions with a $1 tax per month on water rates. Part of the proposed tax would go to fund both Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River Development, which made the measure unpopular with committee members. In an attempt to get the bill out of committee, the provision to fund these projects was removed by Rep Noel and his attempt to get the bill out of committee failed. The committee then voted unanimously to hold the bill in committee.
For several weeks, the URC and many of our volunteers lobbied members of the committee and our message got through, but our victory in stopping the bill was short-lived. Rep Noel, who is very powerful as the Rules Committee Chair, cut deals with committee members over the weekend and he was able to pass HB 135 through the House Natural Resources & Agriculture Committee meeting held on Wednesday, February 21. We anticipate this bill to be voted on by the House next week.