In this Edition of "What the HEC is Happening in the Statehouse?"

Take action to address 1.) local (Crown Hill North Woods), 2.) state (solar, factory farm, & state environmental funding), and 3.) federal (EPA funding) priorities!

And please be sure to 4.) attend upcoming events and get more involved and  5.) support Hoosier businesses that are seriously committed to green practices.
1.) Contact the Veterans Administration to Urge VA to Keep Focus on Alternatives to Crown Hill North Woods
Crown Hill North Woods, located on the northside of Indianapolis, is one of the few remaining old growth woodlands in Central Indiana, and the largest unprotected one in Indianapolis.   

HEC, a statewide organization, continues to be involved in speaking up for these Woods because we believe that Indianapolis, as Indiana's largest city, capital city, and economic center, has a special obligation to show that Indiana is committed to the path of environmental sustainability.

As of this writing (March 18th), these precious Woodlands remain endangered, and require your continued help.


The Veterans Administration (VA) bought the North Woods from Crown Hill Cemetery to develop it into a columbarium.  VA's development plans stand in sharp contrast to long-running efforts to try to permanently protect these Woods, including efforts by the Indy Parks Foundation and the Indiana State Government to buy Crown Hill North Woods last decade. 

The tragedy of moving forward with the VA project is that there are safe and dignified alternative locations to the VA's chosen location -- alternative locations that would be very convenient for veterans and their families and cause no harm to the environment.

While a halt order for development was issued by the VA on Monday, March 13th, the Veterans Administration may resume development sometime next week if they conclude that there are not worthy alternatives to the Crown Hill North Woods site for their proposed columbarium.


Urge the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, to pursue a "no harm alternative" and work with the Laura Hare Charitable Trust, which has offered to purchase an alternative site for this project (which could be a $1 million investment in our community), to forever protect these Woods. 

The more personalized that you can make your email to Secretary Shulkin, the more likely that your message will be read by the Secretary and his team.   

Contact Secretary Shulkin at as soon as possible!

2a.) Save Customer-Owned Solar Energy: "No" to SB 309
Have you ever dreamed of your home, business, place of worship, or community center generating its own power from the sun?

The utility lobby is working overtime to "block the sun" by pushing hard for SB 309.  This bill worsens Indiana's existing solar energy policy in six distinct ways, which will seriously depress homes, businesses, places of worship, and community centers from using their own funds to invest in customer-owned solar energy.


Learn more about SB 309 here and then p lease contact your state representative  today to urge him/her to tell House Utilities Chairman Ober to not put SB 309 to a vote !

Show your moral support for the solar cause by attending the Indiana House Utilities Committee hearing on SB 309, which will begin at 9:00 am on Wednesday, March 22nd.

Save the date to join a pro-solar rally on the grounds of the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, April 1st.  More details will be announced on Facebook by Monday. 
2b.) Contact Your Senator about HB 1494, which would undermine Indiana's already weak protections from factory farm pollution
As we reported last week, your calls, emails, and meetings with lawmakers about HB 1494 -- a bill that would further weaken Indiana's already lax protections from factory farms -- are making an impact.

Senate President Pro Tempore David Long assigned the bill to the Senate Rules Committee -- as opposed to the committee where the bill was expected to go -- and described it as "just bad legislation" in a recent Journal Gazette editorial.  While the defeat HB 1494 is not yet certain, this recent development is good news and a step in the right direction.
  1. Contact Senator Long and thank him for assigning HB 1494 to the Rules Committee and urge him to keep it there.
  2. Contact your own Senator with your concerns about HB 1494 and urge him or her to tell Senator Long to keep the bill in the Rules Committee.
2c.) Contact Your State Senator: Support Greater Funding to Support Outdoor Recreation & to Protect our Water!
At Indiana state parks and recreation areas alone, there are nearly 3,600 buildings and other structures that require routine maintenance and repairs.  Because repair and maintenance appropriations have not kept pace with need - this year's proposed budget is about 50% of the funding that was allocated to this need 10 years ago.

The Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) faces a growing backlog of repairs that threatens the well-being of these structures, including the iconic shelters and other facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 2016 the DNR estimated their deferred maintenance price tag at $60 million.

Over 16 million people a year visit Indiana's state parks and recreation areas.   Their visitor experience is affected by the condition of the parks and the buildings and other facilities in the parks.  Furthermore, Indiana's outdoor recreational sector is more than $9 billion in size, employing more than 100,000 Hoosiers.  It is fiscally unsound to allow for the parks' continued deterioration. 
Two weeks ago we reported to you about the funding needs for IDEM's drinking water and contaminated site clean-up programs.   The latest news from Washington about proposed cuts to the U.S. EPA and the Department of Interior budgets make it all the more important that IDEM and DNR are adequately funded. 
Please contact your State Senator today and urge that the state increase its investment in our environment (IDEM) and natural resources (DNR) to "pre-recession levels"!
3.) Contact Your U.S. Senators and Your U.S. Congressperson to Let Them Know That You Oppose Drastic EPA Budget Cuts
America has recently suffered drinking water crises in places as diverse as Charleston, WV, Toledo, Ohio, and Flint, Michigan.   Our state has not been spared, with ongoing concerns in urban Indiana (e.g., East Chicago) and recent concerns in rural Indiana (e.g., Greentown, Indiana).

Given the enduring need to adequately fund environmental protection programs, one would think that EPA funding would remain steady.   But the Trump Administration has proposed to cut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget by nearly one-third, including a 45% cut in state funds.

Please call U.S. Senators Donnelly and Young as well as your U.S. Congressperson (whatever his or her party) to let them know that you are strongly opposed to these cuts.   This link gives you the contact information for not only your state lawmakers, but your federally elected officials.

Not only are the cuts bad for kids, seniors, expectant mothers, and low-income Americans, they are bad for our economy.  The less funds we have for clean-up programs, the less able we are to bring back economic development to hard-hit communities across our nation.
4.) Get More Involved by Attending Upcoming Events
And Consider Joining Our Volunteer Program!


Learn about the most urgent environmental issues moving through the Statehouse and advocate for a cleaner and healthier Indiana by attending the following upcoming event:


Talk with your legislators by attending town hall meetings (called "Third House" events); these are happening across Indiana in the coming days! 

Monday, March 20th:

Friday, March 24th:

Saturday, March 25th:


If you would like to learn more about the bills moving through the legislature and talking points for conversing with your representative and senator, please visit our  Bill Watch 2017 page .


If you want to become even more involved in advocacy both in the Statehouse and across the state consider joining our volunteer program! Learn more here.
5.) Support Our HEC Green Businesses

We want to give a big shout-out to our new and renewing HEC Green Businesses listed below! Pay them a visit and thank them for supporting our work!

The Sky is the Limit
Eco Logic - Bloomington

Sowing the Seeds
Solaris - Carmel

Keeping Afloat
KG Acres - Lebanon
Just Goods - South Bend
See what's happening on our social sites: