Sierran Masthead

Environmental Legislation Includes the Good, Bad, and Ugly

by Laura A. Arnold
Hoosier Chapter State House Lobbyist

Although 2002 was a so-called “short session” of the Indiana General Assembly, state legislators worked right until their statutory deadline of midnight March 14.

For a short session or nonbudgetary session, state lawmakers spent the lion’s share of their time and attention on state budget and tax matters. Such matters are normally reserved for even-numbered years, or the long session, where the General Assembly passes a two-year budget.

Due to a looming state budget shortfall, Governor O’Bannon and Lt. Governor Kernan, urged state legislators to address both the state budget crisis and a state tax restructuring proposal. House and Senate members, however, were unable to reach an agreement on these two important fiscal matters. As we went to press, members of the Indiana General Assembly were back in Indianapolis for a special session.

Now for my environmental bill list of the good, the bad, and the ugly from the 2002 session of the Indiana General Assembly. (Key: HEA=House Enrolled Act; HB=House Bill; SEA=Senate Enrolled Act, SB=Senate Bill.)

The good: Good bills that passed…

  • HEA 1171 Lead-based paint (Avery)
  • HEA 1227 Oil and gas environmental fund (Weinzapfel)
  • HEA 1329 Public water and wastewater (Weinzapfel)
  • SEA 0079 Septic system disclosure in residential sale (Simpson)
  • SEA 0099 Onsite waste management (Gard)
  • SEA 0139 Birth defects registry (Gard)
  • SEA 0259 Hazardous air pollutants (Hume)

…and bad bills that died

  • HB 1097 Waters of the state (Cherry)
  • HB 1383 Residential sewage disposal systems (Ripley)
  • SB 0141 Wetland study committee (Gard)
  • SB 0439 County ditch maintenance permits (Ford)
  • SB 484 Review of proposed environmental rules (Riegsecker)

The bad: Good bills that died…

  • HB 1004 State budget (Bauer). It would have given IDEM new and increased permit fees that it needs to do its work.
  • HB 1116 Utility regulation including merchant power plants (Fry)
  • HB 1342 Logging ban on state forest land. (Kruzan)

…and bad bill that passed

  • SEA 0029 Clean coal and energy projects and research (Weatherwax)

And the ugly: Bills that became law that will require our continued vigilance.

  • HEA 1306 Waters of the state (Wolkins)
  • SEA 0461 Residential sewage discharging systems (Long)

For complete information on these bills, please visit www.state.in.us/legislative.

How to Get More Involved in the Legislative Process

Here are three different ways you can get more involved in the state legislative process.

First, I have found that many environmentalists have the misperception that the best time to lobby their state legislators is during the session while they are in Indianapolis at the State House. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The best way to influence or persuade a state legislator is to establish a relationship with him or her outside of the State House when the Indiana General Assembly is not in session. Whether the person is perceived as sympathetic to the environment or not, let him or her know you exist. Schedule an appointment with your House and Senate members this summer or fall before the November elections. (Please note that your legislative district may be changing this November because of redistricting as a result of the 2000 census. You can look at these new legislative district maps.)

Better yet, invite them to attend and speak at one of your upcoming Sierra Club group meetings or to participate in one of your outings. Get to know them and provide them with an opportunity to get to know you and other club members. Let them see and hear first hand about your local environmental concerns.

Second, another way to get more involved in state legislative issues is to attend and participate in one of several interim study committees. In particular, many of the environmental bills introduced during the session have been debated and discussed before the Environmental Quality Service Council, or EQSC. The meetings of the EQSC will be particularly important this year since theythe committee will be studying wetlands issues and making recommendations for the upcoming 2003 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

The Hoosier Chapter is both pleased and proud to have two club members serving on EQSC and representing environmental interests, namely Bill Hayden of Bloomington and Sandy Miles of Indianapolis. As soon as members are appointed and issues are assigned, information about these interim study committees is posted to the legislature's web site.

Third, become a member of the Hoosier Chapter’s Legislative Committee, Conservation Committee, and/or Political Committee. Each of these three committees is an integral part of the development and execution of a successful state legislative environmental campaign. Contact information for the chairs of these committees can be found elsewhere in on page 2 of this newsletter.

Plans are currently underway to bring together environmentalists from several organizations for a lobbying and media training workshop on Friday, October 10, and Saturday, October 11, in Indianapolis.

As your lobbyist at the State House, I would be happy to provide any club member additional, more detailed information about the past session or plans for the upcoming 2003 session of the Indiana General Assembly. If you or your group is interested in a program on effective grassroots lobbying, please contact me. I would be happy to work with any or all of you to develop a more effective environmental voice at the State Capitol.



Laura A. Arnold is owner of The Arnold Group. Ms. Arnold was the registered lobbyist during the 2001 and 2002 sessions of the Indiana General Assembly for the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League, and the Save the Dunes Council. She can be reached at (317) 635-0112 or larnold@indy.rr.com.

Top of Page

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[7/20/02]efp