Bill Watch 2019

Update: January 13, 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 factory farm pollution that is currently unregulated. Although the bill did not get a hearing, it has been reintroduced this session as HB 1378 – with even more support. 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.

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 1261 will require inspections of septic systems when residential properties are sold.

HB 1406 will appropriate more money for loans and grants to be used on water and wastewater infrastructure.

HEC will also be seeking to secure more funds for water protection for Indiana’s environmental agency, IDEM.

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 to purchase endangered wilderness areas and to increase investment in the sustainability of all currently owned DNR properties.

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.  Learn about the ongoing quest to adopt a law that sets aside a portion of our state forests as wilderness that is untouched by logging.   We supported the 2018 bill but, unfortunately, it did not get a hearing. However, there was victory in a record number of Republican lawmakers not only backing the bill, but sponsoring it.

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).

E.) Reducing Barriers to Solar

We anticipate the resurrection of a bill that 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 supported 2018’s SB 207.  Unfortunately, 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 in the 2019 session – this bill will become law.   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!