The 2009 session of the Indiana General Assembly adjourned sine die on Wednesday April 30, 2009. Lawmakers failed to pass HB1001, or the budget bill; therefore Governor Daniels will have to call a special session. The Senate passed the bill 37-13, but minutes later the bill failed in the House, 27-71, with all the Republicans and 24 Democrats voting no. K-12 funding, charter schools, gaming, transit, stimulus dollars, and rainy day funds were among many issues causing the budget vote to fail. (Although I think we all know both parties are posturing for the mid-term election). The legislature did succeed in coming to an agreement to fix the State’s bankrupt unemployment insurance fund. Despite heavy opposition from the Indiana Chamber and the Manufacturers Association, HB1379 passed the Senate 46-3 and the House 52-47, not a single House Republican voted for the bill. The new plan will raise taxes on employers but will not cut benefit payments. Labor made their voice heard on the issue, staging the largest rally in the Statehouse in over a decade on Monday April 28th, filling the Statehouse with thousands of laid-off union workers. Despite claims to the contrary by some lawmakers, the rally proved that the voice of the people does matter and does have an impact.
While much debate was being held on the budget, unemployment, abortion, puppy mills, sugar cream pie, transit, stimulus dollars, and rainy day funds, CAC largely stayed away from these discussions (although I must confess I had more than one slice of the pie) and continued working to protect ratepayers and advocate for a sustainable energy policy focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Close to 50 bills and resolutions were introduced dealing with the topics of energy, utilities, coal, net metering, and the associated issues, an unprecedented number for our State. This is an indication that both sides finally recognize the importance of energy on the economy and the environment, and that Indiana can no longer shelter itself from the conversation in Washington and across the globe. Despite this acknowledgment, efforts to pass meaningful energy legislation failed, thanks in large part to partisan politics and the greed and hubris of the utility lobby. The following articles summarize many bills CAC followed, and publicly supported or opposed.
-Kerwin Olson, CAC Program Director