2018 Indiana Legislature Weighing Districting, Solar, Farms, and Forests

Today, the Senate Elections committee took a step forward on fairness in drawing our electoral districts by voting for SB 326 and creating standards for creating our maps, though does not designate an independent commission to do so, which has been a major focus of redistricting reform advocates. 

House Utilities Chair, Representative David Ober, has written and heard testimony on a bill that would extend the grandfathering period for school corporations and municipalities on net-metering, the mechanism by which they are credited for excess solar energy at a retail rate. This bill, HB 1069, is a small course correction on last year's SEA 309 which ended net-metering in Indiana. A vote will be taken this Wednesday in the House Utilities committee on whether to move this bill to the full assembly.

There is a bill again this year to prohibit Homeowners Associations from banning solar panels on homes, SB 207, that has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. If you are a homeowner with a restrictive covenant that prevents you from installing solar PV, you will definitely want to look closely at this bill and contact your legislators.

Air and water pollution arising from manure pose health and quality of life challenges for those who live downwind/downstream of Confined Feeding Operations (CFOs), which is the focus of HB 1369. This bill has not yet been heard, but if implemented would create a number of protections against pollution from CFOs. You can read an excellent summary of those policy changes in Hoosier Environmental Council's description of this bill HERE.

Due to a 400% increase in logging of State Forests, the timely consideration of SB 275, which creates a 30% set-aside in our forests from timber harvesting, is critical. Variations on this bill have been submitted in the past, but this year there is considerable momentum to pass this bill and create the necessary study-areas and stable sections of forest for research and enjoyment. This bill has not been scheduled for a hearing. 

Lastly, it is very interesting that the House Committee on Education passed HB 1024 last week to work with interscholastic sports or intramural athletic coaches on "heat preparedness" for training their athletes. As 16 of the 17 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001, we know that summer temperatures have been a problem for Indiana. We don't know if bill author, Representative Ron Bacon, had climate change on his mind when he filed this bill, but we hope that he and all lawmakers consider some of the larger policy and education changes that are needed in the face of our changing climate.

For all of these issues, if you wish to discuss your thoughts with lawmakers, please visit 

https://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

to find your Senator or Representative and their contact information. Use your voices!

Shannon Anderson