Democratic Process And AZ Parks

Democratic Process, Both Frustrating And Rewarding

Talk about good news/bad news and all in a single day – that’s the democratic process in action for better or worse!

As an advocate for Arizona State Parks, I was disappointed that Gov. Brewer vetoed House Bill 2362 introduced by Rep. Karen Fann. Her bill would have protected earned income by state parks, such as entrance fees and other user charges, from further legislative budget sweeps.

I’m a registered lobbyist for Arizona Forward, a statewide business-based environmental coalition, but don’t often spend the day at our state capitol.  Mostly I advocate through education and outreach. But earlier this year, I participated in State Parks Advocacy Day at the capitol and co-hosted a press conference on the lawn with the Arizona State Parks Foundation. One of many parks stakeholders, I visited legislators in their office to communicate support for HB 2362. My own legislator, Rep. John Cavanaugh, told me he would not support the measure because the revenues would not be appropriated.

That’s why when the bill soared through the House and the Senate with bipartisan support and only a few opposing it, we were especially elated and felt like we made a difference. But then… our governor vetoed the bill.  That was definitely disheartening.

At the same, however, I learned the governor also vetoed HB 2757, which would have allowed for electronic billboards, a measure that violated the state’s ban on intermittent light, ruining the dark skies that have made Arizona a prime site for astronomical research.  That was good veto for the environment.

There’s democracy for you – it’s no doubt sometimes frustrating. After spending weeks getting park advocates, business owners and involved citizens to meet with their senators and representatives, it was erased with a single veto signature.  Admittedly, this bill definitely wasn’t the answer to state parks funding problems but it was a small step in the right direction.

On a positive note, many conservationists are already working on potential long-term solutions to fund parks and open space throughout Arizona. Plus, Rep. Fann is working on resurrecting her bill with a narrower focus to get passed in this session. Even though the governor has indicated she will support this revised version and agrees that parks create value in our community, anything can happen. Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed.

Or better yet, speak out and voice your support for parks. If you would like to lend your voice to advocating for Arizona’s natural assets – the beautiful parks and open space that draws so many to the Grand Canyon State – please visit arizonaforward.org.

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Diane Brossart

About Diane Brossart

Diane Brossart has a longtime connection with Valley Forward Association, having first joined the non-profit public interest organization 20 years ago. Brossart served on the Valley Forward Board of Directors for several years and was named President of the association in 1991. As President, Brossart oversees a staff of four and manages a host of committees, which focus on such issues as land use planning and desert preservation, transportation and air quality, water concerns and environmental education. Under Brossart's leadership, Valley Forward has received widespread recognition for its role in addressing environmental and quality of life issues in the Valley. Awards include an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9; Award of Distinction from the Western Mountain Region of the American Institute of Architects; and first-place honors from the City of Phoenix Mayor's Environmental Awards Program. Brossart also received the Phoenix Award from the Public Relations Society of America's Phoenix Chapter in 2008, in addition to the 2009 Champion of Sustainability Award through the Phoenix Business Journal's Green Pioneers program. She is also involved as a member of several civic organizations, including the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Valley Partnership, Friends of the West Valley Recreation Corridor and Phoenix Community Alliance. Prior to her work with Valley Forward, Brossart was Vice President of one of the Valley's largest public relations agencies, serving as a marketing consultant to Valley Forward and several commercial accounts. Brossart received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University in 1979 and began her professional career as a reporter for a daily newspaper in metropolitan Detroit.