2018 Indiana General Assembly Report, Week 3
This is the third weekly report designed to inform CAC board and staff, as well as CAC members and the general public regarding our activities and work during the 2018 Indiana General Assembly.
This week was a truncated workweek due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. CAC staff presented testimony at two committee hearings, attended many more and had constant dialogue with legislators and staff throughout the week. CAC is tracking more than 50 bills. As we mentioned last week, 893 pieces of legislation have been filed. These bills must by heard by the committees in which they were placed by Thursday January 25th or they will be considered dead. Of course that doesn’t stop any legislative language from being inserted into other bills. Anything is possible until the gavel falls sine die in the Indiana Statehouse. A list of legislative deadlines can be found here.
It was a busy hearing on Tuesday in the House Utilities, Energy, and Telecommunications committee. Six bills were scheduled to be heard, but the committee was only able to hear testimony on four of those bills before adjourning.
We testified on a dangerous anti-wind energy bill, House Bill 1338, authored by Chairman Dave Ober. HB 1338 sought an arbitrary and unfair statewide restrictive ordinance to limit wind-turbines from certain properties. While that language was struck from the bill in committee, it still retains some rather idiosyncratic language that clumsily attempts to police local official behavior despite applicable ethics laws already in Indiana State Code. We continue to watch this bill in order to shield Indiana from codifying public policy based on junk science and impetuous exclusionary zoning.
CAC testified in support of HB1069. Authored by Chairman Ober, HB1069 is a follow-up to last year’s highly controversial SEA309 which phases out net-metering in Indiana over the next five years. The bill promises to extend the net-metering grandfathering period an additional five years for cities, schools, and towns. While CAC supports a full repeal of SEA309, we appreciate any attempt to improve the bill and extend the period that net-metering is available, if only for a small sub-set of consumers.
CAC also spoke in support of HB1267, authored by Rep. Edmond Soliday. The bill will create a water task force designed to address the enormous infrastructure needs that exists in Indiana with respect to our water and wastewater infrastructure. We did express concerns regarding the make-up of the task force. As outlined in the bill, the task force would not include any members of the public at large, nor any voice for low-income consumers or any independent environmental or public-health advocate. We support the idea of the task force, but believe strongly that the task force should be more inclusive to ensure that all voices are heard.
We also assisted our redistricting coalition, All IN for Democracy in crafting a Letter to the Editor for dissemination after an important meeting coming up this next week of the Senate Elections Committee, chaired by Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus). While the reform vehicle of Senate Bill 159, authored by Sen. John Ruckelshaus (R-Indianapolis), probably won’t get a hearing this year, we are hopeful to see elements of the bill incorporated into other legislation receiving a hearing this coming Monday in Senate Elections.
Items upcoming this week
· Monday morning the Senate Elections Committee will hear (SB326), one of this session’s redistricting bills. We don’t believe the bill is strong enough but it is a means to achieve reform—although we believe it should be strengthened significantly.
· Monday at 10am in Room 233 the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee will hear a series of bills dealing with water infrastructure including Sen. Ed Charbonneau’s (R-Valparaiso) SB361 and SB362. We will testify.
· Committee votes have not been announced for House or Senate Utilities Committee but we expect those to meet on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Lindsay Shipps & Kerwin Olson