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2020 Indiana General Assembly Report, Week 8

 

This past week was the last week of committee meetings and calendars filled quickly while Committee Chairs worked to clear their schedules of bills. CAC attended meetings of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, the Senate Utilities Committee, the House Environmental Affairs Committee, and the House Utilities Committee. In addition, we marked the progression of legislation we’re watching on floors of the House and Senate.

 

On Monday in the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee our Lindsay Haake (and baby Catherine) testified in support of House Bill 1265, Rep. Carolyn Jackson’s (D-Hammond) lead testing bill we’ve briefed you on in weeks past. The bill was amended to require schools test for lead on a biennial basis. While we recommended the bill include daycares, we also told the committee we didn’t want to stall the bill’s movement through the legislature. The bill passed with a vote of 9-0. The bill is awaiting second reading in the Senate where it may be amended.

 

On Wednesday, Kerwin waited to testify on two bills in House Environmental Affairs but wasn’t called on during Chairman Dave Wolkins’ (R-Winona Lake) last committee hearing of his career (as he is retiring this year). We were hoping to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 229, as the bill’s language will contribute to the damage and possible destruction of wetlands by exempting drain reconstruction from the wetland rule. Indiana has lost more than 85% of its original wetlands according to the EPA and we’re deeply concerned this bill will make things worse. Though Rep. Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) attempted to fix the bill, it failed by a vote of 4-5. The bill eventually passed committee by a vote of 5-4 and will be on second reading in the House Monday, where it may be amended. We were also hoping to testify in support of House Resolution 18, authored by Rep. Carey Hamilton. HR18 acknowledges climate change as an actual, data-verified issue that impacts Hoosiers. Had we been given the opportunity we would have asked for immediate passage of HR18 with thanks to the author for recognizing this issue.

 

With the committee deadline having passed, Senate Bill 214, by Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago) is dead. SB214 would have required lead testing in Lake County Schools. Not to worry though, as we updated you above, HB1265’s passage out of Senate Environmental Affairs means there is true hope this will be enacted into law this year. Another bill that died is House Bill 1337 which would improve reporting protocols to downstream water users of toxic chemical spills. This bill was specifically designed to warn the public of polluted water supplies and we are hopeful that the matter might be addressed in another forum.

 

In House Utilities we saw SB177, a broadband initiative, move out of committee. It will now be on 2nd reading in the House, meaning it will face another vote before heading back to the Senate for further action.

 

The Geist Conservancy bill, Senate Bill 430, was on third reading in the House Thursday, and received a vote of 92-0. CAC supports increased oversight of Indy’s drinking water supply in Geist Reservoir. The bill now heads back to the Senate where Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) is expected to concur on the bill. 

 

In the Senate this week we saw Sen. Aaron Freeman amend anti-transit language into House Bill 1279 that would stop IndyGo's transit system expansion, which includes the Red Line and two additional planned bus rapid transit (BRT) routes. Removing such a transformative tool from local municipalities’ toolbox imposes a barrier to lift folks out of poverty.

 

House Bill 1414, the coal bailout bill, was heard in Senate Utilities Committee this week. Our Kerwin Olson testified on the amended bill, with which we still have grave concerns. The bill, though amended with amendment 6 and amendment 8, still sends a negative signal to Indiana’s energy landscape which is heavily trending towards cheaper and cleaner forms of energy like wind and solar.  The bill now proceeds to the Senate floor for further discussion.

 

Upcoming This Week

  • House Bill 1265 remains on second reading in the Senate. Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) has an amendment to reduce the limit of acceptable lead to 5ppm instead of the EPA’s 15ppb
  • Monday’s rather lengthy Senate calendar is available here
  • Monday’s House calendar is available here
  • House Bill 1414 will be heard on second reading in the Senate on Monday, which means the bill may be amended
  • Senate Bill 229 will be on second reading on Monday in the House, which means the bill may be amended

 

Procedural note: If a bill does not advance past second and third reading deadlines in the House and Senate Monday and Tuesday, respectively, the bill will die. Though the bill may die, the legislative language may be revived in another piece of legislation that is still alive and moving.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Lindsay Shipps & Kerwin Olson

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