Indiana General Assembly Mid-Session Update
By Kate E. Beatty, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP
February 26, 2013 marked the mid-point of the four-month long 2013 session of the Indiana General Assembly. While hundreds of the over 1,200 introduced bills have died after failing to pass out of committee or never reaching the third reading, 213 Senate bills remain alive and have moved to the Indiana House and 175 House bills survived and now move to the Indiana Senate. This short session has been focused primarily on the economy, jobs, and education. As a result only a handful of bills that address energy, the environment and farming have progressed.
The following bills represent some of the energy, environmental and farm legislation that remain under consideration:
Senate Bill No. 510 Substitute Natural Gas Contracts
This bill requires the Indiana Finance Authority to submit a final purchase contract with a producer of substitute natural gas (SNG) to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). After notice and a hearing, the IURC will have the authority to approve, reject, or modify a final purchase contract if found to be in the public interest. The factors the IURC must consider when determining if the contract is in the public interest are:
- Whether the final purchase contract is structured in a way that lessens the impact of any price volatility in the natural gas market on retail end use customers.
- Whether the assumptions underlying the model used to calculate the purchase price of SNG under the final purchase contract, including assumptions about the future price of natural gas and coal and the value of future byproducts of the coal gasification facility, adequately apportion financial risk between the SNG producer and retail end use consumers.
- The findings of any study conducted by the IURC on the natural gas market and reported to the regulatory flexibility committee established under IC 8-1-2.6-4.
- Any other factors the IURC considers necessary.
The IURC will have 180 days to issue a final order after the final purchase contract has been submitted.
In addition to reviewing final purchasing contracts, this bill requires the IURC to conduct and report on a study of the natural gas market, including natural gas prices on both the open and captive markets and the effect of availability of SNG and shale gas on natural gas prices. The study must be completed by November 30, 2013.
This bill, if passed, would be effective May 15, 2013. The requirement for the IURC to conduct the study of the natural gas market would be effective upon passage.
House Bill No. 1583 Administrative Rules Oversight Committee Changes
For proposed rules submitted for publication in the Indiana Register after July 15, 2013, where the agency has determined the rule will have a total estimated economic impact greater than $500,000 on all regulated persons, the rulemaking agency shall submit the rule to the Administrative Rules Oversight Committee (AROC) for review. For a rule that the rulemaking agency has determined will have a total estimated economic impact of $500,000 or less, the agency may submit the rule for review by the AROC. The proposed rule must be submitted to the AROC not later than the date on which the agency submits the proposed rule to the Attorney General. The AROC has 45 days from the date that an agency submits a proposed rule to issue a recommendation on the rule. The AROC may recommend that the proposed rule be approved or disapproved by the Governor. If no recommendation is made by the AROC within the allotted time, the agency may submit the rule to the Governor for approval without a recommendation by the AROC.
This bill, if passed, would be effective July 1, 2013.
Senate Bill No. 529 Establishment of the Office of Energy Development
This bill proposes that the current Office of Energy and Defense Development be separated into two distinct offices: the Office of Energy Development and the Office of Defense Development. The duties and authority relating to energy and energy development currently reside with the Lieutenant Governor and the Center for Coal Technology Research. Under this bill, the duties and authority for energy development would be vested in the Director of the Office of Energy Development who is appointed by the Governor to serve as the State’s Chief Energy Officer.
The Office of Energy Development would be responsible for the oversight of the following programs:
- The alternative fuel fueling station grant program;
- The alternative fuel vehicle grant program for local units;
- The Energy Development Fund;
- A low interest loan program for certain energy or recycling projects;
- The coal research grant fund;
- The Green Industries Fund;
- The Office of Alternative Energy Incentives and the Alternative Energy Incentive Fund;
- The E85 fueling station grant program; and
- The Center for Coal Technology Research and the Coal Technology Research Fund.
Although the duties and responsibilities will be shifted to the Chief Energy Officer, the Office of Energy Development will continue to coordinate with the Lieutenant Governor regarding the Home Energy Assistance Program, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Block Grant and weatherization programs.
This bill would be effective July 1, 2013, if passed.
Senate Bill No. 586 Indiana Department of Environmental Management Certified Mail Requirement
This bill would allow a person to provide a written request to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) for a different method of notice of a determination or an order issued by the IDEM’s Commissioner that is reasonably available to the IDEM, such as email. Currently notices of a determination or an order issued by the IDEM’s Commissioner are sent via certified mail. Failure to receive notice does not invalidate an order or a determination, unless the person required to receive notice of an order or a determination is substantially prejudiced by the lack of notice. The person claiming lack of notice has the burden of persuasion as to the substantial prejudice.
If passed, this bill would be effective July 1, 2013.
Senate Bill No. 373 Criminal Offense for Photographing, Recording or Filming an Agricultural or Industrial Operation
This bill prohibits a person from photographing, recording, or filming agricultural or industrial operations with the intent to defame or directly or indirectly harm the business relationship between an agricultural or industrial operation and its customers. In the context of this bill, an agricultural operation means the production of crops, horticultural products, livestock, livestock products, poultry, poultry products, or growing timber. Industrial operations are broadly defined as the (1) manufacture of a product from other products; (2) transformation of a material from one form to another; (3) mining of a material and related mine activities; or (4) storage or disposition of a product or material. If a person disseminates the photographs, recordings, or films, without the written consent of the property owner or an authorized representative, the person is subject to a Class A infraction. A person who commits a Class A infraction may be fined up to $10,000. If the person knowingly or intentionally commits this offense and has a prior unrelated judgment or conviction for this type of violation, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor. A person who commits a Class B misdemeanor may be imprisoned for a fixed term of up to 180 days and fined up to $1,000.
This bill would be effective July 1, 2013, if passed.
The last day for the third reading of House bills in the Senate is April 10, 2013. The last day for third reading of Senate bills in the House is April 15, 2013. Final adjournment of both houses is scheduled for April 29, 2013.
To view a complete PDF of the January/February 2013 issue of the Environmental Letter, click HERE.