Almost there| SB 1403, solar jobs bill, clears Arizona House

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By a margin of 39-12, the Arizona House of Representatives passed SB 1403 on Friday, June 26th, putting the solar jobs bill just one step away from becoming law.

Although the Arizona legislation has received national attention, final passage in the House was overshadowed by the debate — and eventual victory in the US House of Representatives — of the Waxman-Markey climate bill on the same day. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (HB 2454) squeaked by on a vote of 219-212.

News of the Arizona win came as a surprise even to many supporters of the bill.

The Phoenix Sun, I’m embarrassed to admit, was among those who only belatedly learned of the victory. In my case, the news came in the form of an eMail from the Senator who sponsored the bill, Barbara Leff.

“Did you know that SB 1403 passed on Friday,” Leff wrote, adding, “I didn’t see a story on it.”

The bill may be the one bright spot in an otherwise dismal legislative session.

[Gulp]

The only item needed for SB 1403 to become law is a signature from Governor Jan Brewer.

There’s been no word from the Governor’s office, however, on whether or not she plans on signing the bill. She has met with several delegations of manufacturers who say their decision to set up operations in Arizona depends on the incentives granted in the bill. If the Governor doesn’t sign SB 1403, said one person involved in these meeting, the manufacturers said they would go elsewhere.

The Republican Governor is currently locked in a battle with Republican legislators over the state budget, and there is some concern that SB 1403 could become collateral damage in that fight.

Representative Michele Reagan, who sponsored the bill in the House, told me this afternoon that SB 1403 is “a positive step for Arizona, and one of the only things done year that will be moving the economy forward.”

Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, agrees with Reagan.

“We’re happy it passed,” Bahr tells the Sun. “The bill may be the one bright spot in an otherwise dismal legislative session.”

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Photo Collage : clockwise, from upper left, the sun over the earth from space, the Nellis Solar Power Plant, and the average solar energy available at the surface, with the black dots showing the total land area required to equal the total energy used in 2006, assuming a conversion efficiency of 8%. College by: Matthias Loster

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