2021 Indiana General Assembly Report, Week 5
With two weeks until committee report deadline, hearings are getting longer and typically last the maximum two hours of allotted time. The week began with a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee of SB373, a carbon credit initiative authored by Sue Glick (R-Howe). This bill was originally conceived by former Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) and was studied during the interim. The bill passed committee unanimously and will be on the floor of the Senate Monday. Read more about SB373 here.
In House Utilities Committee this week we testified in opposition to HB1520, a bill loosely aimed at the large topic of reliability. Kerwin reminded the committee that HB1520 creates additional regulatory burdens and an unfunded mandate for staffing and increased workload at the IURC. What we should be talking about is expanding competition, choice for customers, expanding net metering and authorizing community solar.
But the worst bill this week—indeed this session—is Senate Bill 386, which was heard in Senate Utilities last Thursday. SB386 is Indiana’s first attempt at securitization, or financing capital recovery with a bond repaid in utility bills. Unfortunately, SB386 gets it dreadfully wrong. Despite being sold as bill which will save customers money, the legislation only promises to increase utility bills by sticking consumers with a surcharge on their monthly bills for the next 15 years, while delivering the utility and their investors a truckload of cash. Nothing in the bill guarantees that consumers will save one single penny. Despite testimony outlining this, the committee quickly passed the bill, 9-2, despite a wealth of concerns from committee members.
We told you last week that SB389 and HB1191 would receive votes on the floor of the Senate and House, respectively. SB389 deregulates Indiana’s isolated wetlands. This stands to harm one of the state’s most precious resources: our drinking water. Make sure you take a look at Hoosier Environmental Council’s SB389 Mythbuster Guide. SB389 passed with a vote of 29-19. HB1191 prohibits local units of government and state universities from making decisions about their energy use. Despite considerable outcry, HB1191 passed with a vote of 66-28. Read more about the bill here.
Upcoming Next Week
A bill targeting transit in Indianapolis and setting a horrible precedent for Indiana is being heard on Thursday in Senate Appropriations. SB141 is authored by Sen. Aaron Freeman and similar to his effort last year, which died. SB141 would unfairly harm transit service by reducing funding needed to build IndyGo’s two new bus rapid transit corridors. This legislation flies in the face of the referendum passed by taxpayers in 2016 to fund these projects. Data shows that transit is a critical component to escaping poverty. Tell your State Senator to vote no on SB141.
To follow these bills in real time, make sure you follow us on Twitter. We tweet throughout the week as to the progress of bills we mention in our reports and on our Indiana General Assembly Bill Watch website.
Kerwin Olson & Lindsay Haake