January 20, 2018
What the HEC is Happening in the Statehouse?
1.) Decisively Address Factory Farm Pollution
For the first time ever, there is bipartisan support for comprehensive legislation to address several problems preventing our state environmental agency (IDEM) from adequately safeguarding health, properties, and quality of life in Indiana’s rural communities from noxious and dangerous factory farm pollution.

Representatives Sue Errington (D-Muncie) and Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) -- who both reside in counties that have long been impacted by factory farms (CFOs) -- have introduced a bill ( House Bill 1369 ) that would, among other things:

  1. prohibit construction or expansion of CFOs in environmentally sensitive areas;
  2. give IDEM the authority to deny a CFO permit to build a new CFO or expand an existing one if doing so would endanger human health or the environment;
  3. establish greater setbacks for new CFOs from existing residences, schools, churches, parks, etc.
  4. require new and existing CFOs to implement a site-specific manure management plan and use of necessary measures to protect lakes, streams, groundwater, etc. from contamination;
  5. require CFOs to comply with an odor/air emission standard to protect off-site air quality;
  6. require annual inspections by IDEM and submission of operating records to IDEM to ensure public transparency and accountability; and,
  7. give IDEM the authority to revoke a CFO permit if a CFO becomes a public nuisance or a threat to human health or the environment.

Common sense solutions -- as listed above -- to a chronic and serious problem should at least be given a fair hearing by our lawmakers. On that front, Rep. David Wolkins, Chair of the House Environmental Affairs Committee (where HB 1369 has been assigned), promised last legislative session to hold a committee hearing this session on a bill that offers solutions to the CAFO pollution problem. That bill is HB 1369 !

TAKE ACTION:
Contact Rep. Wolkins at h18@iga.in.gov or 317-234-9028 and urge Rep. Wolkins to make good on his promise and hold a committee hearing on HB 1369. To learn more, read HEC’s policy brief .
2.) Protect Our State Forests
Citizens from around Indiana visited the Statehouse on Tuesday to urge their legislators to support SB 275 , the Old Forest bill. This bill would protect the backcountry areas and other mature, closed canopy hardwood forests found in our state forest system. These old forest areas have great ecological value, providing rich habitat for native deep forest birds like the endangered cerulean warbler, rare or endangered mammals including the Indiana bat and smoky shrew, along with numerous species of salamander, the endangered timber rattlesnake, and species of spiders not found elsewhere in Indiana. The backcountry areas, such as the 3,000 acre area in Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forests, are highly visited recreation areas and contain popular long distance hiking trails such as the Tecumseh Trail. The bill provides that these protected old forest areas would be off limits to commercial logging.  

Well-known economist Morton Marcus is supporting SB 275.  Read his editorial in support of the bill.  

There's still time for SB 275 -- co-authored by Sen. Bassler (R-Washington), Sen. Koch (R-Bedford) and Sen. Ford (R-Terre Haute) -- to be heard in committee. 

TAKE ACTION:
Contact your state senator today, and ask him or her to: 
  1. Co-sponsor SB 275 and
  2. Urge Senate Natural Resources Committee Chair Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) to hear the bill.
3.) Stand for Solar Energy

Rooftop solar suffered a serious setback in Indiana with the enactment of SEA 309 last legislative session . However, there are two bills, SB 207 and HB 1069 , which would enable Indiana to make forward progress on solar. SB 207 would significantly reduce unreasonable regulations that many Homeowner Associations impose on their homeowners when it comes to where solar panels are sited. HB 1069 would extend the length of net metering for solar systems installed by schools and by cities. For more detail on these bills, please click here .

TAKE ACTION:
Please contact your State Senator and encourage him/her to contact Senator Head to hear SB 207 in the Civil Law Committee. Please contact your State Rep and encourage him/her to support HB 1069, on the safe assumption that HB 1069 will pass out of Committee next Wednesday.
4.) Advance Redistricting Reform

Poorly drawn legislative maps can break up communities, significantly depress civic engagement, and favor the election of ideologues over problem solvers.

SB 326 would require that new legislative maps for Indiana are drawn with several objective criteria in mind, including keeping communities of common interest (e.g., cultural, ethic, socioeconomic) together. SB 326 does not, however, include the establishment of a long sought independent redistricting commission.

TAKE ACTION:

Please contact your State Senator  to support SB 326 -- but also tell him or her to support an "independent redistricting commission" (as seen in the language of SB 159). Also, please show your support for redistricting reform by attending the Senate Elections Committee hearing at 9:30 am on Monday, January 22nd in the State Senate Chamber.
5.) Ta ke Part in Upcoming Trainings, Workshops, and Town Hall Meetings
Want to magnify your impact for Indiana's environment, but not sure how to do it? Please join us at one of these upcoming events to get informed and empowered!


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

Columbus - January 22nd and January 29th
Howard County - January 26th
Greater Lafayette - January 27th
Hendricks County - January 29th
Madison County - January 29th

If you would like to learn more about anticipated bills this upcoming legislative session and would like to read talking points to help you engage with your representative and senator, please visit our  Bill Watch 2018 page .
 
If you have any questions about any of the above events or about our website, please contact our  Outreach Coordinator , Amanda Shepherd.
Hoosier Environmental Council | 317-685-8800 | comments@hecweb.org | www.hecweb.org