Bill # and Title: HB 1267 – Water Infrastructure Task Force
Authors: Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) and Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso)
Summary: Establishes a water infrastructure taskforce consisting of members appointed by the Governor. It requires the task force to: (1) study drinking water systems, wastewater management systems and storm water management systems; (2) create an empirical decision-making tool that will allow policymakers to prioritize water infrastructure projects; and (3) develop a long-term plan for addressing drinking water, wastewater and storm water management needs in Indiana. The bill also requires the study of research and outreach efforts to reduce non-point source impacts on water quality.  Requires the taskforce to submit a report containing certain recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor not later than December 1, 2018.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard, amended and passed by the Senate Utilities Committee 10-0 on Thursday; now eligible for further action in the Senate.

Update/Chamber Action: The bill was amended in committee to take out the specific number of members appointed to the taskforce (15) and the entities they represent (the specific spot for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce was removed, but it may return). The amended version allows the Governor to appoint individuals representing areas of interest.

The Chamber has continually indicated its support for the bill. It is consistent with the Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, as the taskforce will develop a long-term plan for addressing water needs in Indiana.

Bill # and Title: HB 1115 – Landowner Immunity for Trail Access
Author: Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) and Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis)
Summary: Amends an existing law and specifies that with respect to the statute that restricts a landowner’s liability for an injury to a person or property caused by an act or failure to act of another person using the landowner’s premises for certain recreational purposes, those purposes include another person going on or through the premises for the purpose of accessing a trail, a greenway, a park or another similar area used for recreational purposes.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard and passed by the Senate Civil Law Committee 8-0 on Monday; passed second reading in the Senate on Thursday and now eligible for a final vote.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber indicated its support of the bill, which clarifies that a property owner is not liable for an injury when a person goes upon or through the owner’s land to access a trail, a greenway, a park or another similar area used for recreational purposes. The bill appropriately insulates business and individual property owners from liability.

Bill # and Title: SB 269 – Road and Utility Repair
Authors: Sen. Erich Koch (R-Bedford) and Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valaparaiso)
Summary: Requires the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to consult with the appropriate local government officials whenever a proposed INDOT action adversely affects certain local interests including commerce. After consultation, it requires the INDOT commissioner to either: (A) approve a proposed INDOT action subject to the concerns of the appropriate local representative; or (B) remand a proposed INDOT action to appropriate department personnel for the purpose of devising a revised action that is less destructive to certain local interests.  It also provides that the hearing officer appointed to conduct a hearing concerning a petition to establish a regional water, sewage or solid waste district is required to provide notice of the hearing to the executive of a city or town that has a municipal sewage works or public sanitation department having extraterritorial jurisdiction within the boundaries of the area to be included in the proposed district.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Passed by the House Roads and Transportation Committee 11-0 on February 21; now eligible for further action on the House floor.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber provided testimony supporting the bill. The notification requirements when establishing a regional water, sewage or solid waste district should prevent unnecessary duplication of facilities and services. This should prevent unnecessary increases in utility costs. The bill also requires INDOT to consult with local officials when a road or bridge project may have an adverse impact on business and explore whether there are alternative plans.

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