Legislative Activity


SB 389 – Anti-Wetlands Bill


Senate Bill 389 would eliminate the protection of Indiana’s state regulated, isolated, wetlands. Wetlands are critical to a healthy ecosystem. They are home to hundreds of species of plants and North American birds, many of which are endangered. Wetlands help keep our water clean by filtering sediment, chemicals, nutrients, and other harmful pollutants carried by stormwater runoff from reaching our waterways. They also work to recharge our aquifers by acting like giant sponges, soaking up floodwaters and slowly releasing them back into the ground. As you can see, wetlands are pretty important.

UPDATE:

4/26/2021

Today, our President Brian Grotz joined Indra Frank (HEC) and dozens of other organizations to hand-deliver this opposition letter of SEA 389 to the Governor’s Office. More than 100 organizations have signed onto the letter representing an unprecedented, widely-diverse coalition. We also spoke at a press conference, along with several of these organizations about our opposition and request for the Governor’s veto. You can view the press conference here.

“We’re talking about the ultimate sustainability of our shared water future, not simply about pesky regulation.” said our Executive Director, Jill Hoffmann. “Those of us in the day to day management of water, and even many of our legislators, know that we are facing significant water challenges. To lessen protections and allow unpermitted impacts to one of the most critical landscape elements in the stability of our water cycle (wetlands), at this point in time, is irresponsible and woefully short-sighted.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

4/15/2021

The Indiana Senate voted yesterday to concur with the House version of SB 389, which means this ‘anti-wetlands’ bill has passed the Indiana General Assembly despite widespread public outcry and more than 90 diverse organizations in opposition. The bill removes protections for an estimated 400,000+ acres of Class 1 wetlands and an untold number of acres of Class 2 wetlands. This is one of the most significant rollbacks of environmental protections we’ve seen in many years. Without question, the impacts to the sustainability of our water resources, communities, and wildlife will be significant. There were impassioned speeches against the bill by both Democrats and Republicans.

We’d like to THANK YOU for your efforts to stop this bill and demand better policy. We know some of our state leaders heard you and listened. We’d also like to thank those leaders, and you will find a list of their names at the bottom of this post.

What’s next? The bill now goes to the Governor. We are working with dozens of partner organizations to craft a sign-on letter that will go to the Governor asking him to veto this dangerous, short-sighted bill. We will keep you posted on those efforts and how to participate. In the meantime, there is no reason to wait… please personally CALL or EMAIL the Governor’s Office and tell him to VETO SB 389:

Email: govholcomb@gov.in.gov

Phone: 317-232-4567

The destruction of ecosystems that provide critical services to all Hoosiers is a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten by voters and future generations.

We thank these Democrat and Republic leaders who voted against SB 389:

House of Representatives
Rep. Abbot Rep. Errington Rep. Johnson Rep. Saunders
Rep. Andrade Rep. Fleming Rep. Klinker Rep. Schaibley
Rep. Austin Rep. GiaQuinta Rep. Moed Rep. Shackleford
Rep. Bartlett Rep. Gore Rep. Moseley Rep. Slager
Rep. M. Bauer Rep. Gutwein Rep. Nisly Rep. Smaltz
Rep. Borders Rep. Hamilton Rep. Pack Rep. V. Smith
Rep. Boy Rep. Harris Rep. Pfaff Rep. Summers
Rep. Campbell Rep. Hatcher Rep. Pierce Rep. J. Young
Rep. DeLaney Rep. Hatfield Rep. Porter Rep. Zent
Rep. Dvorak Rep. Jackson Rep. Pryor Rep. Ziemke
Senate
Sen. Alting Sen. Crider Sen. Mrvan Sen. Taylor
Sen. Bassler Sen. Ford Sen. Niezgodski Sen. G. Walker
Sen. Becker Sen. Glick Sen. Qaddoura Sen. K. Walker
Sen. Bohacek Sen. Lanane Sen. Randolph Sen. Yoder
Sen. Breaux Sen. Melton Sen. Tallian

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

3/30/2021
— ACTION NEEDED! —
As you know, we have been among a core group of partners leading the fight against the devastating anti-wetland bill SB 389. To this end, we have authored a letter that lays out key facts, specific policy alternatives, and draws attention to relevant policy pitfalls. More than 75 organizations have signed onto this letter, with many more on the way. Signatories are being updated daily.

To date, the debate around SB 389 and its many Amendment variations have only focused on how many and which wetlands to deregulate. Other options need to be explored, or Indiana will lose these critical water resources and their water management functions. We need options focused on meeting various permit process challenges and situational grievances, not deregulation. Please share this solutions-based, science-based approach with your legislators. Key legislators to contact include House Speaker Representative Huston (h37@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9677), House Environmental Affair Chair Representative Gutwein (h16@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9981), and Bill Sponsor Representative Lehman (h79@iga.in.gov or 317-234-9380) and members of the House Environmental Affairs Committee.

Demand a more thoughtful approach to policy that affects our water supplies and our safety. Learn more about our policy solution in this letter to our legislature. This letter also includes important, fact-checked information about the State’s In-lieu Fee Mitigation Program, as there have been widespread misrepresentations made about this program. Please help us shift the policy discussion away from deregulation and toward thoughtful policy that best serves all Hoosiers. The Committee vote is Monday, April 5. Several different amendments to 389 are circulating among the Committee members. To our knowledge, they all still focus on various degrees of deregulation, which is an unacceptable outcome.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

URGENT Action Needed, Again
We’ve been meeting one-on-one with several members of the House of Representatives alongside several other conservation partners. Unfortunately, while these meetings provided some assurances that SB 389 would be amended through a negotiation process with IDEM and that we would have ample time to seek diverse input on the content of that amendment before it went to a committee hearing, that commitment has not been honored. We are now in a scramble to rally opposition on a dangerous amendment released late yesterday, led by Senator Garten. The original bill was a full repeal of state-regulated wetland protections, yet despite widespread and diverse public and professional outcry, the amendment (in its 11th variation) is essentially the full repeal in a different wrapper, and it’s scheduled for hearing on Monday (3/22) at 10:30.

WE NEED YOUR URGENT HELP TO CONTACT MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE NOW AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON SB 389 AND AMENDMENT 11. Contact members of the House Environmental Affairs Committee. You can find their contact info here.

If you are able and interested in testifying Monday in-person, please do. Many and diverse voices are needed!

During our meetings with the Representatives, we tried to explain the many values of wetlands to our water supplies, water quality, and flood resiliency. We often found ourselves countering misunderstandings about the value of isolated wetlands, small wetlands, or wetlands that may be dominated by invasive plants. We continue to try to educate our public officials that critical wetland functions such as groundwater recharge, pollution abatement, and stormwater storage are in full effect regardless of a wetland’s connection to navigable waters, size, or plant diversity. AGAIN, WE NEED YOUR HELP to continue sharing these messages and letting our legislators know that ANY reduction in wetland protection is irrevocably damaging and short-sighted. We cannot afford to replace the critical (and expensive) water cycle services that our wetlands provide us all for the sake of short-term monetary benefits to a few.

We are in a critical phase of this bill’s trajectory. Contact members of the House Environmental Affairs Committee TODAY. Links to Legislators can be found below in the Indiana Legislators section.

Proposed Amendment to SB 389

Senate Bill 389 – Anti-Wetlands Bill

SB 389 has been passed in the Senate. Now it’s on to the House of Representatives. Please take action and contact your Representative and ask them to vote ‘NO’ on this bill.Not sure what’s fact or fiction about SB 389 and Indiana’s Isolated Wetlands? We (WRA), along with the Hoosier Environmental Council, have put together a list of some of the top myths out there regarding regulation of Indiana’s wetlands and done a little mythbusting for you.
Mythbusting on SB 389

In regards to Senate Bill 389, a letter of testimony from the White River Alliance to Chairman Messmer and Committee Members.
SB 389 WRA Testimony

An update from the White River Alliance regarding SB 389.
SB 389 Update


Indiana Legislators

Contact information for 2021 Indiana Legislators can be found in the linked PDF documents listed below.

Indiana Senators
Indiana House Representatives


SB 373 – Carbon Credits Program

This innovative bill would encourage farm and woodland owner participation in carbon markets, through a technical assistance and carbon offset verification program administered by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA). Carbon sequestration provided by carbon offset programs is a critical strategy in reducing the dangerous impacts of climate change.

The second element of the bill would generate new revenue for two state programs that help sequester carbon – 1.) the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust buys new public lands for conservation and outdoor recreation purposes, including forest land. 2.) the Clean Water Indiana (CWI)—which helps farmers utilize best management practices to conserve soil and protect water quality.

The bill passed out of the Senate with a vote of 33 yeas and 16 nays and has been assigned to the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday (3/23) at 11:30 am.

Contact members of the House Natural Resources Committee and the committee chair, Representative Sean Eberhart, and ask them to support the bill. You can find their contact info here.

Senate Bill 373 – Carbon Credits Programs


HB 1055 – Watershed Development Commissions

This bill was originally proposed to establish watershed development commissions. These commissions were envisioned to be multi-county and would have been directed to answer specific questions related to flood control and drainage activities. The bill was amended in the House to assign the concept of exploring watershed development commissions to an interim study committee. The bill passed out of the House with a vote of 90 yeas and 3 nays. It was reassigned to Senate Appropriations Committee.

Contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the committee chair, Senator Ryan Mishler, and ask them to hear the bill. You can find their contact info here.

House Bill 1055 – Watershed Development Commission