Bill Watch 2018

The 2018 Indiana General Assembly came to an end on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

The following is a statement, on March 15th,  from Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, regarding environmental policy achievements during the 2018 Session of the Indiana General Assembly:

“Hoosiers can celebrate some major victories in the name of a cleaner and healthier environment. Diverse organizations came together to put a halt to HB 1289 and HB 1096, two pieces of legislation that would have seriously hurt the ability of our communities to determine for themselves how best to ensure clean rivers and lakes. Thanks to those who spoke up in support, two other bills to be signed into law (HB 1267 and SB 362) will establish a meaningful water task force for the state and improve Indiana’s water infrastructure, respectively.  In addition, citizens and public interest groups stopped, for now, the prospects of a construction waste landfill at the doorsteps of homeowners in Gary, Indiana (HB 1318).

In the cases above, the public interest prevailed entirely; in other situations, a diverse coalition of organizations secured meaningful progress but not outright victory: Growing bipartisan support for a measure to protect our state forests from over-logging (SB 275), overwhelming support for more mass transit options in the Indiana House (HB 1080), bi-partisan sponsorship of a bill that would address the dangers of factory farm waste to the quality of our air, lakes, and rivers (HB  1369), and decisive passage of a redistricting reform bill through the Indiana Senate (SB 326).

In partnership with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and with a diverse coalition of public interest and business organizations working together, we will work to further advance reforms next session.  Indiana can’t afford to miss these opportunities to put our state’s air, forests, waters, economy, and democracy in a better place.

My gratitude to HEC’s outstanding Staff, our devoted members & supporters, and many great organizational partners for a spirit of exceptional collaboration during a surprisingly consequential legislative session for Indiana’s environment.”
Learn more about the fate of the bills that HEC focused most of its attention on by reading below…

I.) The Hoosier Environmental Council’s Areas of Focus for the 2018 Session

A.) Enacting Redistricting Reform 

Gerrymandering of legislative districts depresses voting, discourages civic activity, and favors the election of ideologues over problem solvers.   Learn about why redistricting reform matters for environmental protection, and how you can get involved to enact redistricting reform.   We support SB 326, but also support an “independent redistricting commission” (as seen in the language of SB 159).   At the close of the session, we can celebrate passage of SB 326 out of the Indiana Senate, but lament its failure to get a hearing in the Indiana House.    The coalition for reform, thankfully, gets stronger and we will succeed!


Example of construction run-off

B.) Safeguarding our Lakes and Rivers

HB 1096 was defeated Feb 19 in the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee by a vote of 6 to 5!  A BIG thank you to everyone who contacted their senators and to everyone who testified against it!  HEC opposed HB 1096 because it would have increased sediment pollution by limiting the authority of local stormwater professionals when it comes to construction run-off.  Every construction site is different, so the local authorities are in the best position to judge what run-off controls are needed. HB 1096 passed the Indiana House 70 – 24 in January.  The defeat of HB 1096 in the Senate was a major victory for the protection of Indiana’s lakes and rivers.  Learn more about our opposition to HB 1096 here.

HEC also opposed HB 1289, which would have blocked local governments from the ability to enact policies aimed at controlling water pollution from logging and mining.  It passed the House, but did not move in the Senate.   Victory!   This bill died on March 15, 2018.

We supported the following water-related bills this session, all of which are poised to become law:

  • SB 361, water infrastructure task force
  • SB 362, capital asset management for drinking and wastewater
  • SB 274, leak prevention for underground fuel storage tanks

Learn more about how HEC is seeking to secure more funds for water protection for Indiana’s environmental agency, IDEM.

C.) Reducing Barriers to Solar 

SB 207 replaces heavy-handed prohibitions by Homeowner Associations on solar panels with reasonable standards, and thereby strikes the right balance between the authority of Homeowner Associations and private property rights.

We support SB 207.   On the unfortunate side, this bill was denied a hearing in the Indiana House, but it passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support in the Indiana Senate.   In time – and hopefully next session – this bill will become law!


D.) Keeping Gary Residents Away from Harmful Landfill PollutionEntrance to lead-contaminated site adjacent to Gary Sanitary Landfill. The contamination was caused in part by lead paint on demolition waste.

Gary residents have been suffering from the effects of inappropriately sited waste facilities for decades.  House Bill 1318 would roll back one of the few remaining protections, by eliminating the requirement that new demolition-waste landfills in Gary be located at least a half-mile from residential areas.  It would thus impose additional environmental burdens on this already overburdened community.  We oppose HB 1318.  Here’s why.   Our coalition of opposition secured victory on March 15, 2018 when this bill died!

E.) Protecting Hoosiers from Factory Farm Pollution 

Air pollution & water pollution arising from manure dumps & manure-laden farm fields pose health and quality of life challenges for those who live downwind/downstream from these dumps/farmfields.  For the first time ever, we saw introduction of a bi-partisan, comprehensive CAFO reform bill — HB 1369 — that would give our state environmental agency IDEM the ability to protect our environment and communities from factory farm pollution. Learn more about HB 1369 and HEC’s position here. Although the bill did not get a hearing, it will be revisited again next session. Find out what you can do to ensure that our lawmakers take action on this measure next year.

F.) Preserving State Forestland 

Just 0.69% of Indiana’s total land area is publicly-owned state forestland.  And yet Indiana has substantially increased the logging of this tiny footprint over the last decade.  Learn about the ongoing quest to adopt a law that sets aside — as wilderness that is untouched by logging — a portion of our state forests.   We support SB 275; this bill, unfortunately, did not get a hearing, but there was victory in a record number of Republican lawmakers not only backing it, but sponsoring it.


II.) Take Your Advocacy to the Next Level!

A.) For more information on how to be an effective advocate, please review our Legislative Advocacy Guide here.

B.) To get even more involved, please consider joining our volunteer program, the HEC Environmental Advocates.  For more information and upcoming trainings, please click here.

C.) Are you interested in hosting an event in your community where you can inform family, friends, and your community about leading environmental issues and solutions?   Consider hosting a Greening Your Community event.  To learn more, please click here.

D.) Attend one of the Third House events listed below and stay informed and in touch with your legislators!

Hendricks CountyHendricks County Legislative Breakfast3/19/187:00 amHendricks County 4H Fair Grounds, 1900 E Main St, Danville, IN 46122
Howard CountyBusiness Matters Legislative Wrap-up Luncheon3/21/1811:30 amBel Air Events
3014 S. Webster St
Kokomo, IN 46902
Madison CountyMadison County Third House3/26/188:00 amAnderson Public Library, 111 E 12th St, Anderson, IN 46016
EvansvilleLegislative Wrap-Up and Wine4/5/183:30 pmSouthwest Indiana Chamber
318 Main St. Fourth Floor
Evansville, IN