2018 Indiana General Assembly Report, Week 4
This is the fourth 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.
Many committees endured lengthy meetings this week due to the impending Committee Deadline in the House next Tuesday and Senate next Thursday. As a result, there was a very large volume of bills that were heard as authors and committee chairs sought to beat the deadline. Consistent with the large volume of bills being voted out of committees, the number of bills considered on the floors of each chamber of the General Assembly grew as well.
CAC staff provided testimony in the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee meeting supporting Senate Bill 361 (a water infrastructure task force) and Senate Bill 362 (a water and wastewater utility jurisdiction bill), both authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso). These are important pieces of legislation which continue the dialogue regarding Indiana’s substantial water and wastewater infrastructure needs.
House Bill 1267, authored by Rep. Edmond Soliday (R-Valparaiso), passed the House Utilities Committee on Wednesday. Like SB361, the bill will create a water task force designed to address the enormous infrastructure needs that exist in Indiana with respect to our water and wastewater infrastructure. Rep. Soliday did indeed make improvements to the bill after we exhibited concerns that no members of the public were part of the task force. CAC also expressed concerns that the bill did not require that meetings of the task force be publicly noticed and open to the public. A clarification was added to ensure that the task force meetings are indeed governed by Indiana’s Open Door Law. We remain concerned that the bill does not require the task force to include the issue of affordability of water and wastewater bills in its oversight.
In a move that reassured clean energy advocates and economic developers alike, House Utilities Committee Chairman Dave Ober (R-Albion) revealed he was discontinuing any discussion on the dangerous anti-wind energy bill, House Bill 1338. You might also remember we testified in support of Chairman Ober’s HB1069, which is a follow-up to last year’s highly controversial SEA309 which phases out net-metering in Indiana over the next five years. HB1069 promised to extend the net-metering grandfathering period an additional five years for cities, schools, and towns. Unfortunately, the Chairman announced he would not be giving it a vote and the bill died.
On Monday morning the Senate Elections Committee passed SB326, Senator Greg Walker’s (R-Columbus) redistricting bill. While the bill is not strong enough, it is a means to achieve reform. We are hopeful the bill will be strengthened significantly on second reading in the Senate to stipulate who makes redistricting decisions in the future. While the bill would be a step in the right direction, leaving the bill as is will ensure the fox remains in charge of the redistricting henhouse at the legislature, yet again.
- On Monday, SBs 361 and 362 are on Third Reading in the Senate and HB1267 will be eligible for amendments on Second Reading in the House.
- On Monday, Sen. Greg Walker is expected to call down SB326 for Second Reading in the Senate. We are hopeful it will be strengthened.
Lindsay Shipps & Kerwin Olson