Good advice for state legislators

I was down at the capitol today for the Iowa Environmental Council’s annual “lobby day.” I am active with several groups that had tables there.

If you’ve never attended one of these events, I highly recommend the experience. It is easy to introduce yourself to legislators and talk about your group or the policies you’re supporting.

Some organizations, such as the Iowa Policy Project, had detailed reports to hand out today. Those are quite useful, and I hope they find a receptive audience at the statehouse, but you don’t always need that much detail for a conversation with a state representative or senator.

It helps to have a concise document (a page or two) making your case for specific policies or bills. These “wish lists” are not only for legislators, but also for anyone who wants to know more about your group.

The Iowa Environmental Council’s press release sums up the key points of that organization’s message today:

February 10, 2009

Iowa Environmental Council Asks Legislators for Burn Ban, More Energy Efficiency Programs

DES MOINES – Advocates for clean water and air, clean renewable energy, and sustainable funding for natural resources filled the Statehouse rotunda today to offer lawmakers suggestions for protecting Iowa’s precious natural resources in lean economic times.

Marian Riggs Gelb, executive director for the Iowa Environmental Council, encouraged legislators to act quickly to support policy options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as outlined in a recent report by the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. Gelb, who served on the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council, stressed that the energy efficiency project options provide significant cost savings to energy consumers and expand upon the programs already provided by utilities. Another option Gelb pointed to in the report was land use planning that incorporates sustainable community design and reduces vehicle miles traveled and expanded passenger rail and transit choices.

Gelb also called for legislators to request a new comprehensive state water plan and accurate, up-to-date floodplain maps from the Department of Natural Resources.

“We need a better understanding of the hydrology of our state. The last time the state made a comprehensive assessment of its water resources was 1978,” said Gelb.

Amy Broadmoore, the Council’s air quality program director, said the Council supports proposed legislation that would enact a statewide ban on burning within city limits.

“Asthma, bronchitis and heart attacks are all linked to high levels of fine particulate matter concentrations. These concentrations, in much of Eastern Iowa, are near to or exceeding the Clean Air Act’s standards. A burn ban would help protect Iowans, especially young children and the elderly,” said Broadmoore.

Other speakers included Representative Paul Bell, from Newton, and Senator David Johnson, from Ocheyedan. Like Gelb, they called for legislators to pass the measure currently eligible for debate by the Iowa House and Senate, which would allow Iowans to vote, in 2010, on a constitutionally protected trust fund for programs to protect and enhance Iowa’s natural areas, farmland and sources of drinking water. Gelb noted that Iowa ranks near the bottom in spending for protection of its natural resources.

Iowa Environmental Council member organizations and partners represented at the Statehouse today included 1000 Friends of Iowa; American Institute of Architects-Iowa Chapter; Center for Energy and Environmental Education; Iowa Conservation Education Coalition; Iowa Farmers Union; Iowa Global Warming; Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; Iowa Policy Project; Iowa Renewable Energy Association; Iowa Rivers Revival; Raccoon River Watershed Association; Trees Forever; University Hygienic Lab; Women, Food and Agriculture Network.

###End###

This is a great “wish list” because it advocates for both specific policies that would improve air and water quality as well as broader recommendations of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council.

If you want to receive updates and action alerts from the Iowa Environmental Council during the legislative session, click here to sign up for their I-CALL list.

Please share your experiences lobbying state, local or federal officials in this thread.

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