Bill Watch 2015

A Reason to Celebrate: Five Legislative Victories!

Yesterday night, the gavel fell and the most difficult legislative session that we’ve encountered in years came to an end: An aggressive effort to unravel protections from factory farm pollution. Assaults on our ability to protect our drinking water. A quest to legalize a major health risk to deer. A push to destabilize Indiana’s solar industry.

But perseverance has made all of the difference. With tremendous grassroots advocacy, great partners, solid policy & legal analysis, and countless meetings with lawmakers, we turned the tide. And won. Not once. But five times!

As a result…Legislative Victories Collage 2015 (2)

  1. Your air and water will be safer because of our defeat of a factory farm constitutional amendment.
  2. Your environment will be healthier because we built a coalition that pushed back against a major assault on Indiana’s environmental safeguards.
  3. Your ability to affordably plug your solar panels into the grid has been preserved.
  4. Your state’s wild deer population will be better protected because we helped bring down a shooting preserve bill that would have deepened the risk of a devastating disease outbreak.
  5. Your ability to travel from Indy to Chicago will become easier and more green, thanks to new state funding for the Hoosier State passenger rail line.

Here’s to you, our partners, and the HEC team!

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HEC Turns Tide in Record-Setting Legislative Session for Indiana’s Environment

Largest statewide environmental advocate helps achieve 5 major legislative victories

Obscured behind the cloud of national and international media coverage of RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) were a number of bills that would have decidedly sent Indiana backwards when it comes to protecting the environment had these bills passed.   Fortunately, with the adjournment of the 2015 General Assembly, Indiana’s largest environmental advocacy organization, the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC), celebrates major victories on several fronts.

The two biggest legislative threats to Indiana’s environment were defeated: HB 1351, which would have undermined the ability of Indiana’s policymakers to protect Hoosiers from pollution threats, was denied a hearing in the Senate. SJR 12, a proposed constitutional amendment which would have paved the way for more polluting factory farms, was defeated in a Senate floor vote.

Bills that would have harmed the recreational and solar energy sectors also failed. HB 1453, which would have legalized high fenced shooting preserves (commonly called ‘canned hunting’) and thereby set in motion a major risk to Indiana’s wild deer population, was defeated on the Senate floor. A bill that would have devastated Indiana’s young rooftop solar industry, HB 1320, faced an unprecedented coalition of opponents, including progressive, Tea Party, and religious conservative groups as well as several homegrown entrepreneurs.

“In the backdrop of growing research that environmental quality is an increasingly important factor in where people choose to live, it was incredibly unwise for some lawmakers and special interest groups to advance legislation that would have compromised Indiana’s environmental future,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of HEC. “The efforts to weaken, not strengthen, environmental protection become all the more troubling as we remember the recent pollution tragedies in Ohio, West Virginia, and North Carolina.   HEC, with our allies and supporters, worked tirelessly to cultivate bi-partisan champions in the General Assembly who understood that such legislation would not better the lives of Hoosiers.”

The session was not only marked by attempted assaults to Indiana’s environment, but advancement to a more sustainable future, too. HEC and its partners helped achieve new state funding for the Hoosier State passenger rail line, which will open the door to significantly better service for this long-standing Chicago to Indianapolis route. HEC and its partners also stabilized funding for transit and environmental services.

“I am thankful to our thousands of supporters, many diverse organizational partners, wise legislators, and our wonderfully coordinated team,” continued Kharbanda.  “Tim Maloney was our unwavering, full-time presence in the Indiana legislature, Kim Ferraro and Indra Frank provided critical legal & scientific analysis, and Amanda Shepherd, Marianne Holland, and the rest of our team were vital to engaging our diverse constituencies.”

“In a time when many Hoosiers might be disheartened by the legislative session due to the toxicity of the RFRA debate, they can find a very large silver lining in the great successes that we made for the cause of protecting our environment,” concluded Kharbanda.

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Learn about the fate of major pieces of legislation that we worked on in 2015!

HB 1351, Handcuffs Regulators in Protecting Your Environment

HB 1320, Harms Indiana’s Renewable Energy Sector

SJR 12, Revives “Right to Harm”

SB 249, Restricts Local Control of Factory Farms

SB 412, Shortchanges Hoosiers

HB 1453 – Canned Hunting Bill

SJR 2 – Hunt and Fish constitutional amendment

A stronger bill to safeguard Indiana’s drinking water in SB 312

Please view our legislative advocacy guide for more information on getting involved, or learn more about our Greening Your Community house parties, where you can network with like-minded individuals and view informative videos regarding upcoming legislative issues (also available below).

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