2022 Indiana General Assembly Report, Week 2
It was an exceptionally busy week at the Statehouse. CAC staff attended multiple hearings and coalition meetings last week. We’re following more than ninety bills with more legislation continuing to appear through the public process as we speak. By the week’s end 857 separate pieces of legislation had been filed including 417 Senate bills and 440 House bills.
Much of the Statehouse was centered on legislative priority bills including HB1001 which ends the state’s emergency declaration and prohibits employer vaccine mandates and HB1002, a giant $1B tax relief bill that will largely leave consumers in the lurch, instead benefiting mostly big business.
Also dominating the conversation was Governor Eric Holcomb’s sixth State of the State speech. Unlike his five speeches prior, Gov. Holcomb briefly noted solar energy investment in Indiana. However, it was disappointing that the Governor continues to ignore protecting and restoring net metering, as well as fixing the IURC’s incorrect interpretation of the law when his agency approved an instantaneous netting interval for the new distributed generation rates created by Senate Enrolled Act 309 (2017). Check out our 2022 Indiana General Assembly webpage for more info on solar-friendly legislation we’re highlighting, which promise to extend net metering and fix the IURC’s egregious mistake. And don’t forget to contact your state legislators to ask for hearings on this legislation.
On Tuesday CAC testified in the House Utilities Committee, supporting HB1111 which authorizes the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to begin a rulemaking process around the implementation of FERC Order 2222. HB1111 moved out of committee unanimously. CAC also testified in support of HB1221, Chairman Soliday’s effort to expand electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. HB1221 exempts (non-utility) hosts/owners of EVs and EV charging stations from regulation by the IURC and authorizes hosts/owners of EV supply equipment who make the equipment available to the public to charge by the kilowatt-hour. HB1211 also defines an electric utility “EV pilot” program for jurisdictional utilities, authorizes utilities to file for approval of pilot programs, and authorizes the IURC to approve the pilot programs and the associated cost recovery. While the bill is likely to change—especially since it will be heard in committee again this coming week—we testified that the bill is a great first stab at a complex issue. CAC also made clear, like INDIEC, that the risk should be on shareholders when it comes to cost recovery and that the full costs should be explored in a proper rate case. We’re hopeful the bill continues to move forward and will continue to fight for a ratepayer-friendly outcome.
- At the same time as House Utilities Committee, CAC was watching HB1226 in the House Environmental Affairs Committee. Authored by Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis), HB1226 allows for a Central Indiana solid waste diversion pilot program. The bill did not receive a vote but remains on the calendar for further action this coming week. At the same time, CAC’s Bryce Gustafson was featured in a press conference spearheaded by Hoosiers for Responsible Lending, in support of HB1159 filed by Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) and SB253 filed by Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) that would limit the interest rate to 36% on payday loads. The current cap is a whopping 391%, which causes consumers untold financial hardship and serves as a barrier to escaping the debt trap. Bryce spoke to his experience with the payday lending industry preying on veterans while they’re active duty and after they leave the service. Hearings for Alting’s nor Hamilton’s bills have been announced. Contact your state legislators to ask for a hearing on this important legislation.
On Wednesday, we sponsored and participated in the annual Renewable Energy Day. A press conference was held where advocates, legislators, and faith leaders called for action on renewable energy, most notably on solar-friendly policies designed to expand consumers access to renewable energy. The event was covered by both Indiana Public Media and The Statehouse File. Also on Wednesday, HB1196 moved unanimously out of House Judiciary. The bill will create a process for homeowners who live in a HOA that prohibits or otherwise restricts ground-mounted or rooftop solar, to invest their own money on their own property to go solar.
The Senate Committee on Utilities met on Thursday. First up was SB272, which adopts the recommendations of the Wastewater Task Force. Of most interest to CAC are provisions which provide much-needed financial assistance for low-income households with failing septic systems. CAC testified in support of the bill, which passed unanimously out of committee. CAC also testified in support of SB147 which adds underground pumped storage hydropower to Indiana’s definition of alternative energy sources eligible for certain financial incentives. CAC’s Executive Director Kerwin Olson was featured in article by Indiana Public Media regarding the hearing. That bill also moved unanimously out of committee.
Items upcoming this week
- The House Utilities Committee will meet Tuesday to continue discussing the Electric Vehicle Bill, HB1221.
- The House Natural Resources Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss two bills relating to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) generally, and the proposed hydrogen and CCS project in West Terre Haute. As noted last week, Wabash Valley Resources is back at the Statehouse trough pushing for legislation, HB1249 and SB265, to provide them immunity from any consequences that may arise from the long-term storage of toxic super-critical CO2. HB1209 deals more broadly with CCS. Both HB1209 and HB1249 will be heard in the House Natural Resources in the House Chamber on Tuesday.
- The Senate Utilities Committee will hear a slew of bills on Thursday, including the anti-consumer SB271 which is designed to subsidize the false climate solution that is nuclear power and small modular reactors (SMRs). Also on the agenda are SB278 which appears to be a thinly veiled attempt at forcing consumers into a state-sanctioned fossil fuel marriage, SB176 which directs the IURC to report on renewable energy installations on acreage that was assessed as agricultural land, and SB273 a bill dealing with tracking mechanisms for water and wastewater utilities under the jurisdiction of the IURC.
Kerwin Olson and Lindsay Shipps Haake