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

1. Call your Senators to protect solar energy and old growth forests.

2. Call your Representatives regarding factory farm & re-districting bills.

3. Be a part of the wider community who care for our environment: Join "Stand Up For Your Forests" on Mon. & Transit Day on Tues.

4. Stay on top of opportunities to attend training sessions and meet your lawmakers.
1a.) Urge Your Senator: "No" to SB 309, Seriously Harms Indiana's Potential to Lead in Solar Energy

Indiana's prospects of being a solar energy powerhouse dimmed this last Thursday, when the Senate Utilities Committee backed SB 309, a bill championed by Indiana's utility lobbyists.

SB 309 -- even as amended in committee -- will:

I. Kill "net metering" for solar energy customer-owned generators who seek to install systems after 2022. (Net metering, which exists in 43 states, allows customer-owned solar energy generators to be credited at the retail rate of electricity for any excess power that they send to the grid.)

II.  Allow investor-owned utilities to potentially impose a new fixed fee -- on top of the one that applies to all ratepayers who are customers of such electric utilities  -- on customer-owned generators of solar electricity.

III. Create a "caste system" for customer-owned solar energy generators -- assigning drastically different values for solar energy depending on whether you install before 2017, between 2017 and 2022, and after 2022.

SB 309 sends the wrong signal to homegrown entrepreneurs and companies that seek to expand solar energy in our state by pushing for an abrupt,  arbitrary , and negative change to our state's solar policy.

Urge your state senator to vote "No" on SB 309.   This bill will be voted on in the Indiana Senate during this coming week of February 20th!
1b.) Urge Your Senator to Request a Vote for the "Old Forest Bill," SB 420!
Last Monday scores of forest users, neighbors and supporters squeezed into a packed Senate committee room to speak in favor of Senate Bill 420, a bill to protect old growth areas in Indiana's state forests.  

Many distinguished Indiana scientists, including Dr. Marian Jackson who edited and co-authored "Natural Heritage of Indiana", testified about the biological benefits of protecting these old forest areas. Read some of the scientists' and forest supporters' statements here. Despite the strong showing of support for the bill, no committee vote occurred.


Please contact your state senator today and urge him or her to request that a vote be taken on SB 420 in the Senate Natural Resources Committee!
2a.) Urge Your Representative to Vote "No" on Bad Factory Farm Bill BEFORE Monday!
Last week House Bill 1494, as amended, passed out of the House Environmental Affairs committee by a vote of 7 to 3. 

This bill would eliminate:
  1. the public notice requirements for existing confined feeding operations (CFOs) when making changes to a factory farm that increases the amount of manure it generates, (i.e., increased animal capacity);
  2. the requirement that all owners of a factory farm must be disclosed in a permit application to IDEM (instead, HB 1494, as amended, would only require disclosures of the person in charge of permit compliance at a factory farm and the owner of the waste management system); and
  3. the requirement that their full environmental histories must be disclosed in their permit application (instead, the application only needs to include their most recent five years of environmental violations).
Many concerned rural Hoosiers traveled from across the state to share their personal stories with committee members about how noxious pollution from factory farms has severely and unjustly impacted their well-being, quality of life and communities. Each of these rural Hoosiers expressed to the committee a sense of profound frustration, anger and even despair when describing their encounters with Indiana's state environmental agency, IDEM -- an agency without the regulatory authority under existing law to help address their specific concerns. These long-time rural Hoosiers pleaded with the committee to address the gaps in existing law that allow factory farms to locate too close to homes, fail to adequately protect our lakes and streams, and that lack any limits, whatsoever, on the obnoxious and dangerous air pollution that factory farms produce.
Unfortunately, seven of the committee members disregarded the pleas of our fellow citizens and passed a counterproductive measure that would make matters worse.

HB 1494 will likely be put to a floor vote in the House as early as this Tuesday, so please contact your own Representative BEFORE MONDAY and urge him or her to vote NO on HB 1494!
2b.) Contact Rep. Milo Smith and Speaker Bosma to Urge Them to Put Historic Re-Districting Bill to a Vote
Despite an outpouring of support for the re-districting bill HB 1014, House Elections Chair Milo Smith refused to take a committee vote on February 15th. 


Please call Representative Milo Smith (317-232-9620) and Speaker Brian Bosma (317-232-9677) to demand "a special committee meeting  so that HB 1014 can receive the vote it deserves"! 
3a.) This Monday: Be at the "Stand Up for Your Forests" Rally
On Monday, February 20th, hundreds of citizens from around Indiana will gather in the Statehouse for a rally for our forests.  The gathering, organized by the Indiana Forest Alliance, will call attention to the need to protect high quality and diverse old forest areas in our state forests, which are threatened by accelerated logging plans.  At the rally you'll hear remarks by a diversity of forest advocates -- including HEC -- and be treated to some great home-grown music from Tim Grimm, Hammer and Hatchett, and Cari Ray. 
Rally participants are encouraged to meet with their state legislators before or after the rally. Learn more and register here. The rally starts at 11:30 am in the south atrium on the 2nd (main) floor of the Statehouse.
3b.) This Tuesday: Join Us for "Transit Day"!
On Tuesday, February 21st, public transit supporters will gather for Transit Day 2017. People from across the state, including riders, community partners, and transit providers, will meet with their state legislators to share information and build support for sustainable and dedicated transit funding.

If you care about improved and effective transit service in our communities, Transit Day is a vitally-important event to attend given that legislators are discussing the new state budget at this time.  The event starts at 10 am at the Indiana Statehouse.

4.) Attend Upcoming Events.  And Sign Up to Join Our Volunteer Program!

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

February 18: Greening Your Community - Indianapolis
February 20: Rally for the Forests - Indianapolis
February 21: Transit Day - Indianapolis
February 22: Greening Your Community - Bloomington
February 23:  Greening Your Community  - Franklin College

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

Goshen - Saturday, February 18th
Greater Lafayette - Saturday, February 18th
St. Joseph County - Friday, February 24th
Hendricks CountyMonday, February 27th
Bartholomew County - Monday, February 27th

A Note on Engaging Indiana's Congressional Delegation

If you'd like to reach your Congressional officials about environmental matters, check out this excellent resource that tracks opportunities to engage your U.S. Congressperson or U.S. Senator.   This becomes especially important now that the deeply controversial Scott Pruitt has become head of the US EPA.

Our great thanks to Senator Joe Donnelly for voting against Pruitt.  Please express your thanks to the Senator for his wise decision on Pruitt -- call 202-224-4814 -- and if you are passionate about the preservation of the greatly threatened Crown Hill Forest issue, urge the Senator to contact the Veterans Administration (VA) to seek a no-harm alternative to the VA's proposed project -- which would honor our veterans and show our respect for Indiana's great natural heritage.

Learn More

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 are interested in learning more about advocacy and getting involved in making a positive impact on Indiana's environment, then consider joining our Environmental Advocate program! Our next training is coming up at 7:00 pm on March 8th. RSVP - or send questions - to our Outreach Coordinator.
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