Month: January 2020

RE: HB 1414 – A Healthy Influence of Coal Lobby on Indiana Politics?

Janurary 24, 2020

Mary Blackburn

Recently, Representative Ed Soliday has fast-tracked legislation that is anti-conservative and anti-business.  HB 1414 would stop utilities from making the best economic decisions for their shareholders and/or customers when they do a full financial analysis and determine that upgrading electricity production to less expensive renewables of wind and solar is best for business.  While the national energy markets are investing in other sources of cost-effective energy production for the 21st century, Rep. Soliday’s bill appears to hold Hoosier energy production back in the 20th century.

During the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force study committee hearings this past year, many representatives of the coal and fossil industries testified.  While several of these speakers opined on the unfairness of subsidies for renewable energy in tax credits, the costs of pollution to the air, water and soil and their negative effects on human health were not considered.  When some committee members tried to raise questions about the unaccounted costs of health care for conditions such as preterm birth, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and cancer that have been associated with living near coal fired power plants, these were dismissed as irrelevant.

Did the Task Force recognize, the real dangers to Indiana water supplies that are likely with the more frequent severe rain events causing flooding along our waterways?  Many toxic coal ash ponds are located next to sources of drinking water.  Were such known risks even acknowledged?

The minutes from the interim study closing session state the following:

“Task Force Action: The Task Force made no findings or recommendations regarding the testimony received at the meeting. The Task Force considered a draft of an interim information report that: (1) summarizes the Task Force’s statutory directive and work program for the 2019 interim; and (2) states that the Task Force issued no findings or recommendations concerning any of the topics it considered during the interim. (See Exhibit 12.) The Task Force adopted the information report on a 10-0 roll call vote. (See Exhibit 13).”

HB 1414 seems to reach a conclusion not supported by the Task Force minutes.  At best, it makes sense only if one turns a blind eye – as the Task Force leadership did in its committee hearings — to the higher costs and ill health effects of continuing reliance on expensive coal-fired power plants.  Hoosiers who care about utilities’ right to choose the benefit of cheaper, cleaner energy production should oppose HB 1414.

Citizens encouraged to support redistricting reform Jan. 16

January 11, 2020

Phil Goodchild

The 2020 General Assembly started last Monday, and it’s a short session this year. Our legislators will be packing up and heading home by early March. That leaves us very little time to reform redistricting before new legislative maps are drawn in 2021.  

We hit the ground running on the first day of session with a very successful Statehouse press conference to announce two redistricting reform bills being introduced by Sen. John Ruckelshaus-R, Dist.30. A bipartisan team of legislators attended who pledged their support for redistricting reform by publicly signing the End Gerrymandering Pledge, a national initiative championed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eric Holder.   

It’s extremely important we continue to make redistricting reform visible and keep it at the top of the legislative agenda. Citizens can help make a difference right now by joining the AllIN4Democracy Lobby Day January 16.

WHAT: Redistricting Reform Lobby Day

WHEN: Thursday, January 16 at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Indiana State Library, 315 West Ohio Street, History Reference Room

After a briefing on the status of the bills and some talking points, you are encouraged to walk across the street to the Statehouse and talk to your legislators about reform.  It’s best to call their offices in advance and make an appointment. (One way to get their telephone numbers can be found at “Find Your Representative” on this website.

At least two more Republican legislators, Rep. Woody Burton-R, Dist. 58 and Sen. Greg Walker-D, Dist. 41, have publicly signed the End Gerrymandering Pledge just this week. After the struggle to find support among Republicans the last several years, this is great news!  Please join us on January 16 to learn how to talk with your representatives about supporting this vital reform, then meet with them.  They need to hear from us!  Thank you.

Photo: After the Jan. 6 press conference, legislators sign the End Gerrymandering Pledge. Photo submitted by Phil Goodchild

IFCL supports redistricting reform bills

January 6, 2020

Phil Goodchild

There are high hopes on opening day of the 2020 Indiana legislative session, as IFCL participates in a press conference at the statehouse for Sen. John Ruckelshaus-R, District 30 to introduce his twin bills for redistricting transparency and for an independent redistricting commission.

Sen. Ruckelshaus and Sen. Tim Lanane-D, District 25, each spoke about this bipartisan legislation. Ten other legislators were present in support of the bills. 

Then a crowd of approximately 40-50 looked on as legislators publicly signed the End Gerrymandering Pledge. Two Quakers signaled their approval. 

Bill numbers will be shared when they are assigned. 

Ed Morris and Phil Goodchild represent IFCL at the Jan. 6, 2020, redistricting reform press conference. Photo submitted by Phil Goodchild

Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation
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