Bill Watch 2019

Update: February 22, 2019

Here are the legislative areas that we will be focusing on in the 2019 session, which began on January 3, 2019.

I.) The Hoosier Environmental Council’s Areas of Focus for the 2019 Session

A.) Protecting Hoosiers From Unregulated Factory Farm Pollution 

Air pollution & water pollution arising from manure dumps at factory farms and land where this waste is disposed pose health and quality of life challenges for those who live downwind/downstream.  Last year, in the 2018 session, we saw for the first time ever the introduction of a bi-partisan, comprehensive CAFO reform bill that would give our state environmental agency IDEM the ability to protect our environment and communities from unregulated  factory farm pollution.  While this bill did get a hearing, it was unfortunately voted down, despite bi-partisan co-sponsorship and an incredible line-up of public health, legal, property assessment, air and water quality experts testifying in its favor.  To learn more about the bill and why it is needed, read our brief policy analysis of the bill’s provisions.

Example of construction run-off

 

B.) Safeguarding our Lakes and Rivers

Two pre-emption bills from last year have re-emerged:  HB 1266 and HB 1531.  Both would reduce local control in ways that could increase sediment pollution.  HB 1266 has regrettably passed the House.  HB 1531 was denied a hearing.

SB 4 will establish the first-ever water planning in Indiana.  Both SB 4 and HB 1438 will require audits of water loss from drinking water systems, which should help prioritize infrastructure projects to stop leaks and conserve water; HB 1438 did not move, but SB 4 easily passed through the Senate.

HB 1261 will require inspections of septic systems when residential properties are sold; this bill will not move this session.

HB 1406 will appropriate more money for loans and grants to be used on water and wastewater infrastructure; this bill easily passed the House.

HEC is also seeking to secure more funds for water protection for Indiana’s environmental agency, IDEM.   Our efforts are now focused on budget decision makers especially in the Senate.

Click here for details on water-related bills in 2019.

C.) Preserving Wilderness Areas

HEC is a leader of the Indiana Conservation Alliance (INCA), which is united in its quest to call for dedicated new state funding in the 2019 session (i.e., HB 1376) to purchase endangered wilderness areas and to increase investment in the sustainability of all currently owned DNR properties; this bill was, unfortunately, denied a hearing despite a  breadth of support in  the environmental, conservation, and hunting communities.  Please urge your state rep and state senator to support greater investment in wilderness protection in the budget bill.

Furthermore, HEC supports efforts to safeguard our existing publicly-owned state forestland, which is just 0.69% of Indiana’s total land area.  Indiana has substantially increased the logging of this tiny footprint over the last decade.

D.) 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 an “independent redistricting commission” (as seen in the language of  2019’s SB 91), but this bill did not get a hearing.   We also strongly support SB 105, a redistricting criteria bill, which has thankfully passed out of the Senate.

E.) Reducing Barriers to Solar

We support the bipartisan-sponsored SB 430, which repeals the anti-rooftop solar provisions of the infamous 2017 SB 309 law; this bill was unfortunately denied a hearing.  We also back HB 1331, which 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 this bill and this bill advanced through the Indiana House.  For more information about what you can do to advance solar energy in Indiana, please click here.

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 scheduled Third House events and stay informed and in touch with your legislators!