House Bill 1278 – Various Environmental Matters
Authored by Rep. David Wolkins (R-Warsaw)

This bill corrects or resolves various issues related to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). It also makes some technical corrections to Indiana Code and the Code of Federal Regulations citations.

Chamber Position: Support

The Latest: On Monday, the bill was heard by the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, where Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) introduced an amendment to the bill that would give IDEM the ability to set permit fees through the rulemaking process in front of the Environmental Rules Board (ERB). (Currently, IDEM can only set air program fees by rule). With the amendment, this would include the land and water programs, but it also sets some safeguards that ERB must follow. The amended bill passed out of committee by a vote of 11-0.  

Indiana Chamber Action/Commentary: The Indiana Chamber testified in support of the bill and the amendment. IDEM annually identifies issues that require correction in its “cleanup” bill. This is intended to fix those issues.

In regard to the amendment, the Chamber would not normally advocate for any fee increase. We supported this, however, because of IDEM’s budgetary explanations along with the likelihood of a decrease in staffing that would slow down the permitting process significantly. And we know that time is money for the business community. The Chamber’s Environmental Policy Committee also vetted the proposal and is supportive of the ability to address fees through the rulemaking process. The safeguards will also prevent IDEM from using this process as a cash cow. 

 

Senate Bill 535  – Extraterritorial Powers of Cities and Towns
Authored by Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville)

This bill would repeal the general authority of a municipality to exercise the following powers outside of its corporate boundaries; (1) regulating conduct or property use endangering public health, safety and welfare; (2) capturing and destroying animals and maintaining and operating animal shelters; and (3) operating recreational parks and exercising eminent domain to acquire property for park purposes. Provides that a municipality may only exercise eminent domain within the municipality unless a statute expressly provides otherwise. Repeals a provision that allows a municipality to exercise powers regarding watercourses within 10 miles outside its corporate boundaries. Eliminates the ability of a municipal advisory plan commission to exercise planning and zoning jurisdiction, including approval or denial of applications for improvement permits and other permits for property located in the unincorporated area on July 1, 2019.  Municipalities would still have the ability to regulate a two-mile fringe outside of its corporate limits in certain circumstances.

Chamber Position: Support

The Latest: The House Select Committee on Government Reduction heard the bill on Tuesday. No additional testimony was taken as testimony had been allowed at a previous hearing. Three amendments were offered. One would exempt airport authorities from the bill (for a four-mile radius). The second clarifies what existing ordinances, outside of the municipalities’ jurisdiction, would be grandfathered under the proposed legislation. Another would allow for electronic notification in addition to or instead of notification by publication in certain circumstances. The amended bill passed unanimously. The bill is now eligible for further action on the House floor.

Indiana Chamber Action/Commentary: The Indiana Chamber previously testified in support of this bill. The primary opposition to the bill came from citizen groups that don’t want wind farms located near them and AIM (Accelerating Indiana Municipalities) that wants municipalities to retain their existing authority outside their boundaries.

Local entities should not be authorized to impose restrictions or obligations on property owners and citizens outside their jurisdictional bounds. This essentially gives elected officials the ability to govern those who have no say in their election. Businesses should not be subject to requirements established by a governmental entity within whose jurisdiction they are not situated. Not to mention, the current myriad of overlapping authority engenders jurisdictional confusion and regulatory conflicts.

Resource: Greg Ellis at (317) 264-6881 or email: gellis@indianachamber.com