FAQ

What are the sources of income for CAC?

How is my contribution spent?

How does a bill become a law?

How do I file a complaint with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC)?

How can I get more involved?

How do I contact my state legislators and U.S. legislators?

Where is CAC located?

What is the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission?

What is the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor?

Why are utilities monopolies?

Why not deregulate electric, gas, and telephone utilities?

How do I register to vote?

How do I find out how my legislators voted?

How do I find out who contributed to my legislators?

How do I get heating assistance?

What are the sources of income for CAC?

CAC phone and field canvass operations: 83%

CAC Endowment: 13%

The Endowment was created in the 1990's as a result of our legal victory in stopping PSI Energy from building the Marble Hill nuclear power plant in Indiana. In addition to ordering PSI to pay CAC an award including attorney's fees and court costs, the courts also ordered PSI to refund $150 million to ratepayers.

Other: 4%
Grant money, foundation dollars, event revenue, etc.

How is my contribution spent?

You should know that 100% of what you give goes directly to Citizens Action Coalition. All canvassers (both field & phone) work directly for the organization.

Following is a breakdown of how your contributions are spent:

  • Program activities: 72%
    (lobbying, litigating, research, etc.)

  • Administrative (Management/Overhead): 9%
    (rent, utilities, etc.)

  • Fundraising: 19%
    (field & phone canvassing)

How does a bill become a law?

Please keep in mind that the following is just the process. Politics determines the outcome of the process. For instance, it is virtually assured that a pro-utility piece of legislation will get attention in the legislature. On the other hand, it is very difficult to get a pro-consumer energy or telecommunications bill moving through the process, which is why public participation is critical to protecting the interests of consumers.

 The Drafting and Filing of Legislation

  1. A legislator interested in an issue asks the Legislative Services Agency to draft the concept in the form of legislation.

  2. The legislator files the legislation.

  3. The legislation or bill receives a bill number. The legislator who files the legislation is considered the author of the legislation. Other legislators may sign on as co-sponsors throughout the legislative process.

 The Committee Process

  1. Senate bills are then assigned to a committee by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate; House bills by the Speaker of the House.

  2. The chair of the committee, to which a bill is assigned, determines if the bill receives a hearing.

  3. If a bill receives a hearing, it may or may not receive a vote.

  4. If the bill is heard in committee and receives a vote, it can be amended (changed) by the committee, voted out as is, or voted down.

  5. If the bill passes out of committee, it is sent to the full Senate or House for second reading.

 The Passage of Legislation Out of the Chamber of Origin (House or Senate)

  1. The legislation is put on the calendar for second reading.

  2. During the second reading procedure, bills are called by the President of the Senate or Speaker of the House numerically or by legislator in alphabetical order.

  3. When the author’s bill comes up, the author may call the bill.

  4. On second reading, the bill may be amended. The bill itself is not voted on for passage out of the respective chamber. Only amendments are voted on. If there are no amendments, the bill goes automatically to third reading. If there are amendments, they are voted on and then the bill goes to third reading.

  5. On third reading the bill is voted up or down by the full body of the Senate or House.

  6. If the bill passes, the legislator announces the sponsor from the other chamber (House or Senate) and it goes to the other chamber.

 The Second Stage of the Legislative Process:

The bill is assigned to a committee in the opposite chamber and the same process begins again.

 The End Game: The Conference Committee Process

  1. If a House bill passes out of the Senator or vice versa and the original author of the bill does not like the other chamber’s version of the bill, the author dissents on the bill and it is assigned to a conference committee. If the author likes the version, he/she files a consent. If a consent is filed, the chamber of origin conducts one final vote. If the bill passes it goes to the Governor for signature or veto. If a dissent is filed, the bill goes to conference committee.

  2. A conference committee consists of 4 members, two from the House and Senate from each party. A bill may pass out of a conference committee only with unanimous consent of the conferees. This is called the conference report. If it passes out of the conference committee, both chambers vote on the final version.

If a bill passes either chamber but fails to pass the other, the language in the bill is still eligible for conference committee. However, it must be amended into other legislation of like subject matter – although the Senate is more stringent about like subject matter (known as germaneness) than the House.

How do I file a complaint with the IURC?

Please visit the IURC's Consumer Assistance page for information on filing a complaint.

How can I get more involved?

Call CAC at (317) 205-3535 or e-mail us at staff@citact.org. We can discuss with you your interests and how you can help to make a difference in your hometown and in state policy.

How do I contact my state legislators and U.S. legislators?

The best way to look up your elected officials is by visiting www.votesmart.org. There you can find your elected officials by entering your zip plus four. You can look up the last four digits of your zip code by visiting www.usps.com.

Where is CAC located?

State Office
603 E. Washington St., Suite 502
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 205-3535
Fax: (317) 205-3599

Click here for map.

What is the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission?

The IURC consists of a panel of five members appointed by the Governor and technical staff. As such, it is a state agency. The Commission is charged with setting utility rates for the state’s major and smaller utility companies, although many utility companies, such as most rural cooperatives, are not under IURC jurisdiction. The Commission also adopts regulations for those utility companies under its jurisdiction.

The IURC is a quasi-judicial body, when setting utility rates and approving environmental compliance plans and other filings by utility companies. It is charged with balancing the interests of utility companies and ratepayers.

CAC intervenes in rate cases and other formal proceedings with an attorney and expert witnesses to protect the interests of its members and residential customers in general. However, small business customers are in the same boats as residential customers.

CAC has saved over $4 billion in excess utility charges due to its advocacy before the IURC.

The IURC website is www.in.gov/iurc.

What is the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor?

The OUCC is a state agency. The consumer counselor is appointed by the Governor. The OUCC is mandated to represent the interests of all ratepayers, i.e. residential, commercial, industrial and governmental ratepayers. The OUCC is represented in every rate case and in all other decisions made by the IURC. CAC intervenes because it is necessary to bolster the position of the OUCC in major decisions and to serve as the sole intervener who represents only the interests of residential ratepayers and as a barometer for the true public interest. CAC is non-partisan and is not compromised by the interests/biases of the Governor, nor influenced by corporate contributions.

The OUCC website is www.in.gov/oucc.

Why are utilities monopolies?

In the 1920s, the utility industry was not regulated federally and huge utility empires were created across the country. However, the expansion was achieved by accumulating a huge debt caused by numerous acquisitions. Indeed, the house of cards it created and the eventual financial collapse of the utility industry is considered to be a contributing factor to the Great Depression.

Because of the ratepayer abuse caused by no regulation, municipalities began creating publicly owned utilities. As a reaction against public ownership, conservatives proposed creating investor-owned utility companies that would be granted state franchised monopolies that would be regulated by state government.

Indiana’s utilities grew out of these arrangements. Indiana has over 30 municipal electric utilities and five major investor-owned electric utilities (NIPSCO, I&M, IPL, Duke, and Vectren). We also have 3 major gas companies (NIPSCO, Citizens Gas, and Vectren). Some of these investor-owned utilities are gas and electric companies, such as NIPSCO and Vectren. All the investor-owned utilities are owned by larger multi-state parent companies. These are NiSource (owns NIPSCO), Duke, AES (owns IPL), Vectren, and AEP (owns I&M).

Why not deregulate electric, gas, and telephone utilities?

Deregulation in the energy industry has not served ratepayers or the economy well. The California energy crisis in the late 1990s/early 2000s was the result of deregulating local electric utility companies. (At no time during the crisis did demand for electricity outstrip supply.) The Enron debacle was also the result of deregulation. The energy industry faced a financial meltdown in the early 2000s, due to deregulation of the electric wholesale market, when it lost $100 billion as a result of building too many natural-gas fired power plants. Ratepayers will be paying for this public policy disaster for many winters to come, as increased demand for natural gas in the electric industry has sent heating costs through the roof. In terms of commodity price for natural gas, the industry has been fined over $4 billion over the last 5 years for manipulating natural gas prices. This is all due to relaxed regulation. Indeed, we appear to be recreating the problems that occurred in the 1920s in that we are not rigorously regulating what are essentially monopolies that can exert market power on prices and charge excessive utility bills.

Deregulation in the phone industry has resulted in consolidation, not competition. For instance, SBC, which owns local telephone companies across the country, recently bought AT&T and renamed itself AT&T. "Ma Bell," the system Congress sought to break up in the 80's, is now fully back together. However, this time there is little to no regulation over many aspects of the industry. CAC spent years successfully helping to stop state deregulation in the local phone industry. However, in 2005, AT&T heavily lobbied the Indiana General Assembly and finally managed to push deregulation into law. As a result, it now set its own local phone rates and has eliminated IURC oversight of its rates, charges, and quality of service. Thus far, the results have been increased local phone rates and decreased quality of service.

How do I register to vote?

To register, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years of age on the date of the next election and have resided in your precinct for the past 30 days. Registration closes 30 days before Election Day.

You can register by mail, or in person at a number of locations. You can now register online to vote at https://indianavoters.in.gov/PublicSite/PublicMain.aspx.

You can pick up forms or register in person at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, city clerk’s office, county clerk’s office, public libraries, township trustee offices and most universities.

You do not declare a party affiliation when registering to vote in Indiana.

How do I find out how my legislators voted?

Some votes can be researched on the Indiana General Assembly website www.in.gov/legislative. You will need to know the bill number to get started. Keep in mind that votes on 2nd reading amendments on the floor are sometimes not recorded. Committee votes are always recorded.

CAC usually compiles voting records for all of the legislators on the bills that we work on during any given session. Click here to access these voting records.

How do I find out who contributed to my legislators?

The state posts this information at www.campaignfinance.in.gov, but the database is not the best organized. A better place to search is the data collected by the Institute on Money in State Politics. See their web site at www.followthemoney.org.

How do I get heating assistance?

Visit the INCAP website here for more information and income guidelines for heating assistance.