HB 1257 – Notice of Environmental Contamination
Authored by Rep. Patricia Boy (D-Michigan City)

The bill requires a person who causes a spill of certain substances into waters of the state to report the spill immediately to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the county health officer of each county in which the spill occurred, downstream water users, at least one emergency response agency, as well as each park located in the county in which the spill occurred. It requires the person who caused the spill to immediately provide notice by publication to the public in each county in which the spill occurred. The bill requires IDEM, the county health officer, the downstream water user, the emergency response agency and each park to post the information received about the spill on each entity’s web site and make the information received about the spill available to the public. The bill establishes a civil penalty of not more than $25,000 for each day that the person fails to make the report or provide the required notice. …

Chamber position: Oppose

The latest: The bill was heard in the House Environmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday. The committee chair, Rep. David Wolkins (R-Warsaw), did not allow a vote on the bill – citing that it still needs work.

Indiana Chamber action/commentary: The Chamber testified that although we support clean and safe water, we must oppose this bill. We cited the new “objectionable substance” standard as subjective and unclear. In addition, there are already sufficient reporting provisions that IDEM and the Environmental Protection Agency require. Notice by publication may not be a timely means if the goal is to get information out to the public quickly. The new civil penalties for not complying with the notification requirements could be more than the penalties for the actual release. The bill would be duplicative and too burdensome on businesses.

Bill Makes Corrections to IDEM’s Current Regulations

HB 1309 – Department of Environmental Management
Authored by Rep. David Wolkins (R-Warsaw)

This is the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) yearly agency cleanup bill. It amends the law concerning the property tax exemption for industrial waste control facilities to require the property owner seeking the exemption to certify that the property for which the exemption is claimed meets the exemption requirements and provides for the township assessor or county assessor, instead of IDEM, to allow or deny the claimed exemption. It amends the law concerning assessed value deductions for hydroelectric power devices and geothermal energy heating or cooling devices to eliminate the requirement that IDEM determine whether a system or device qualifies for the deduction. Provides that the township assessor or county assessor may consult with IDEM in determining whether to verify the certified statement of the property owner concerning a claimed deduction. Full details.

Chamber position:
 Support

The latest: The bill was heard in the House Environmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday and passed on a unanimous 10-0 vote.

Indiana Chamber action/commentary: The Chamber indicated its support for the bill because it streamlines the property tax exemption for industrial waste control facilities and provides regulatory certainty by making the state statutes consistent with existing federal law.

Pesticides Bill May Have Unintended Consequences

HB 1119 – Regulation of Pesticide Use and Application
Authored by Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston)

This bill makes changes to the statute governing the state chemist’s authority to impose civil penalties for purposes of the law concerning pesticides, pesticides use and application. It provides that the changes to the state chemist’s imposition of civil penalties do not apply to the imposition of a civil penalty pursuant to a proceeding of the state chemist initiated before July 1, 2020. Under current law, the state chemist has the option to impose civil penalties for violations of pesticide laws and rules, but may only impose civil penalties in accordance with the schedule adopted as rules by the Indiana Pesticide Review Board. The bill establishes a new schedule of civil penalties in statute, which are significantly higher, and requires the state chemist to impose the penalties.

Chamber position:
 Oppose

The latest: The bill was heard in the House Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on Thursday.  It passed out of committee by a vote of 12-0 with instruction from chairman Lehe to the state chemist’s office to work with the organizations that had concerns with the bill in its current form.

Indiana Chamber action/commentary: The Chamber indicated its opposition to the bill as it will likely have unintended consequences on lawn care companies as well as other businesses that use/apply pesticides. The state chemist’s office noted that the bill was developed in consultation with agriculture trade associations and aimed at agriculture use but could apply to other applications. We will be working on this bill in consultation with our members. If it doesn’t get amended, we will lobby against it in the House and the Senate, if it gets that far.

Resource: Greg Ellis at (317) 264-6881 or email: [email protected]