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2021 Indiana General Assembly Report, Week 13

 

Issues at the Statehouse are beginning to reach a fever pitch. This is usually the point in session where legislative priorities boil off and we see what is left.  We saw this with the omnibus gaming bill and the bias crimes debate. Some things, however, are still very much in flux, and will remain so until the moments leading up to the final gavel for this year’s legislative session.

 

You might remember back in 2019 we saw the legislature pass Senate Enrolled Act 442 which deals with the underground storage of toxic, supercritical carbon dioxide for the Wabash Valley Resources project in Vigo County. Back in 2019 it was supposed to be an ammonia fertilizer project but now it is being billed as a “green hydrogen energy carrier ammonia plant ,“ whatever that means. It’s a convenient and recent change made by the plant’s developers considering quite a bit of attention given to hydrogen lately. The company opines that it will be the largest US carbon capture and sequestration project ever developed. Last week we saw the rumored amendment giving Wabash Valley Resources absolute indemnity from all liability related to the underground storage of toxic carbon waste and the authority to condemn personal property without notifying or compensating the landowner. 

 

The amendment was offered and adopted in the House Natural Resources committee. The committee stripped SB 373 of its original language—which both farmers and environmentalists supported—establishing the state’s first carbon market. The new language proposed by Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Covington) is deeply controversial and unprecedented as noted in these articles written by the Terre Haute Tribune-Star and Indiana Public Media. Word is the bill is being recommitted to the House Judiciary Committee, so we’ll expect another hearing this week. Committee deadline is this week so if a bill hasn’t been heard by Thursday, it will likely die...but there are ways to revive dead language so nothing’s for sure dead until the legislature adjourns sine die.

 

The Senate Utilities Committee passed the bill setting statewide standards for wind and solar siting, House Bill 1381, with the support of the local officials that had previously opposed the measure. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for passage before returning to the House.

 

The House Utilities Committee passed a swath of broadband bills designed to expand access to underserved areas. SB 377, SB 352, and SB 359 will be up for a final vote before returning to the Senate this week.

 

Upcoming this Week

We are awaiting a committee announcement regarding Senate Bill 373; SB 141, the bill decimating transit; and SB 389, the bill deregulating wetlands. If those aren’t heard this week they will die. Follow our updates on Facebook and/or Twitter for announcements regarding these and other bills we’ve been following in these weekly reports. 

 

Senate Utilities will hear House Bill 1191 and 1164 this week as they did not have time to get to the bills last week.

 

The House will debate Senate Bill 271, which we testified against because of a harmful amendment introduced in committee by Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis).  SB 271 would allow Indiana utilities to benefit from less stringent coal ash regulation. As a reminder, Indiana investor-owned utilities are already allowed to pass the cost of coal ash remediation along to consumers.

 

A legislative process note:

A handful of bills have already making their way to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk. Follow the process with the click of a mouse, here. Once the legislation has been signed by both the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate, it heads to the Governor for further action. Once officially received by the Governor, the bill receives up to ten days of consideration. He is allotted ten days to either veto or sign the bill. If the bill does not receive either action, it becomes law without the Governor’s signature after ten days has elapsed.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Lindsay Haake & Kerwin Olson

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