2019 Indiana General Assembly Report, Week 13
Issues at the Statehouse are beginning to reach a fever pitch. This is usually the point in session where legislative priorities boil off and we see what is left. We saw this with the omnibus gaming bill and the bias crimes debate. Some things, however, are still very much in flux, and will remain so until the moments leading up to the final gavel for this year’s legislative session.
House Bill 1470, the blank check for investor-owned utilities, remains at the forefront of CAC’s efforts in the Statehouse. On Tuesday, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 33-14. The bill’s passage was covered by the Indy Star. Due to the fact HB 1470 was not amended by the Senate, it returns to the House unchanged, meaning it does not require any additional action by the Legislature. Thus, the next step in the process is awaiting action by the Governor.
We saw the House vote to pass Senate Bill 442 on Monday. Senate Bill 442 deals with the underground storage of carbon dioxide relating to the proposed Wabash Valley Resources ammonia fertilizer project in Terre Haute. The Senate author of the bill, State Senator Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute) filed a dissent motion on the bill. This motion means he does not agree to the amendments (changes) made to the bill while it was in the House. Because of his motion, SB 442 will be assigned to conference committee where the two versions of the bill will be debated until an agreement is reached by the members of the conference committee (whose makeup has yet to be announced).
We saw the Senate vote to approve Senate Bill 4, authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso). This bill addresses Indiana’s significant needs related to our water and wastewater infrastructure. We supported this bill throughout the entire legislative process, and expect a signature from the Governor post haste.
In the House Utilities Committee, discussion continued on Senate Bill 472 which has morphed into a larger discussion consisting of an Energy Task Force for Indiana. We have spoken to the Committee in support of an Energy Task Force that puts ratepayers before utility profits. Stakeholders including investor-owned utilities, regional transmission organizations, environmental and social justice organizations have also given their input for their vision of Indiana’s energy future, which has been sorely lacking for years. The Committee will meet again this coming week to discuss the Task Force amendment SB 472.
Upcoming this Week
We are still watching House Bill 1266 which has been languishing in the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee since its hearing on March 11th. It will be heard again on Monday April 1st. HB1266 is a poor excuse for an environmental protection bill and is focused on sediment and erosion control in construction sites. For more on this bill, see the write up from our friends at the Hoosier Environmental Council.
What’s become known as the “anti-protest bill,” Senate Bill 471, will face a concurrence vote on Monday in the Senate after passing the House despite extensive floor debate—most of which revealed the bill is a solution in search of a problem. We have been working with an alliance of First Amendment supporters on the bill including the ACLU, Hoosier Environmental Council, the NAACP and many others.
A legislative process note:
A handful of bills are already making their way to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk. Follow the process with the click of a mouse, here. Once the legislation has been signed by both the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate, it heads to the Governor for further action. Once officially received by the Governor, the bill receives up to ten days of consideration. He is allotted ten days to either veto or sign the bill. If the bill does not receive either action, it becomes law without the Governor’s signature after ten days has elapsed.
Lindsay Haake & Kerwin Olson