The Pennsylvania General Assembly began a new two-year session on January 15, 2019. With the critical support of our members, we are fighting for an array of clean water issues:
Keystone Tree Fund
This legislation would add a voluntary check-off box on state vehicle registration and driver's license online application to allow citizens to voluntarily donate money to a Keystone Tree Fund. These funds would go towards the existing riparian forest buffer grant program and the urban street tree planting program. The bill unanimously passed out of the House committee last session, but the session ended before it could further progress.
We are working closely with the General Assembly and agricultural partners to provide financial assistance to Pennsylvania farmers to help them come into compliance with existing state laws and regulations, as well as implement best management practices (BMPs) on the ground. Pennsylvania is one of the few states within the Bay watershed without an agriculture cost share program. With runoff from agricultural lands a major source of pollution to the Keystone State's waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, an agriculture BMP cost share program could help address this pollution by providing technical and financial resources. We are engaging diverse partners, assessing the need of a coalition, educating legislators, policymakers, and stakeholders, and researching/developing legislation to create an agriculture cost share program.
Our work to designate the Eastern Hellbender as Pennsylvania's State Amphibian continues. Written by our Pennsylvania Student Leadership Council, the bill passed in the Senate but stalled in House State Government Committee due to a competing state amphibian designation bill. This legislation affords us the opportunity to talk with legislators and mobilize students to highlight the need for the protection and improvement of our rivers and streams. Student Leaders are motivated to try again and are planning to introduce the hellbender legislation in both the House and Senate early this session.
Stopping Bad Legislation
We are always on guard to defeat any legislation that would have negative impacts on water quality. This includes bills that would divert vital resources and underfund conservation efforts, as well as legislation that would create unnecessary legislative oversight of executive agencies.