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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Environment - More on: Bill would abolish all environmental boards, replacing them with a "rules board" on July 1st

Updating this ILB entry from Jan. 16th, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette published an editorial yesterday headed "Keep IDEM boards." Some quotes from the long editorial:

Significantly, both environmentalists and businesses oppose the idea.

Sen. Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, recognized as the go-to legislator for environmental issues, authored Senate Bill 130. It seeks to eliminate IDEM’s Air Pollution Control Board, Water Pollution Control Board and Solid Waste Management Board and replace them with a consolidated environmental rules board.

The goal of the legislation is efficiency.

House Bill 1002, authored by Rep. Dave Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, is a much broader bill about consolidating commissions, committees and boards. But it also includes language about consolidating IDEM boards that is similar to Gard’s bill.

Opponents of the bill are justifiably wary of the proposed consolidation. There are concerns that whatever efficiency IDEM might gain with the consolidation could potentially be eclipsed by the significant loss of technical and scientific knowledge of board members. The knowledge needed to evaluate an air pollution issue differs significantly from that needed to understand a water pollution problem.

Each of the separate boards includes experts in those specific areas as well as representatives of Indiana’s different interest groups, including community and environmental advocates.

Note that SB 130 is already on third reading in the Senate. Here is the current version.

The FWJG began its editorial yesterday with:

Improving efficiency and eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy are nearly always desirable objectives – except when efficient actually means ineffectual and impotent.
The bill, as it moves through the process, however, appears to be picking up a new bureaucracy, albeit less structured than the current system. The amended version of SB 130 already has been amended to add a technical secretary and legal counsel. There are apparently unpaid positions, except for "travel and per diem." This idea has been tried in the past for the individual boards and, as I recall, it has proven difficult to impossible to find individuals with the necessary time and expertise to attend to one board, much less a combination of all the boards. In addition, the amended version now provides that the board may establish totally uncompensated advisory committees for the purpose of giving advice on any matters pertaining to the business of the board.

HB 1002, which includes similar environmental board provisions as the Senate bill, is a massive bill which, IMHO, has not received enough press. Here is its current digest:

Synopsis: Eliminate commissions, boards, and committees. Reenacts the public officers compensation advisory commission that was repealed in 2011. Decreases the membership of the Indiana war memorials commission from ten to nine members with one member from each congressional district. Sets December 31, 2013, as the termination date for the Indiana stadium and convention building authority and transfers powers, duties, and liabilities of the authority to the Indiana finance authority. Consolidates duplicative reporting required for the Indiana economic development corporation (IEDC). Repeals the electronic digital signature act. Consolidates reporting requirements imposed on the IEDC for various programs administered by the IEDC into the state economic incentives and compliance report. Repeals the chapter requiring the IEDC to study the steel industry and provide expertise to public officials regarding the steel industry. Repeals and otherwise eliminates reporting requirements imposed on the IEDC to consolidate those requirements at another location in the Indiana Code. Repeals the law that establishes the tobacco farmers and rural community impact fund. Repeals the law that allows a distressed political subdivision to appeal if the subdivision's property tax collections are reduced by at least 5% in a calendar year as a result of the application of certain tax credits. Repeals the law that allows certain political subdivisions to borrow money for rural community water supply systems. Repeals the capital investment tax credit. Removes obsolete references to the abandoned railroad corridors board. Repeals certain statutes creating the following boards of the department of environmental management: (1) Air pollution control. (2) Water pollution control. (3) Financial assurance. (4) Solid waste management board (collectively, the repealed boards). Defines "board" to exclude the repealed boards. Establishes the environmental rules board (consolidated board). Requires the consolidated board to use rulemaking procedures to adopt rules. Transfers to the board duties of the department of environmental management to adopt certain rules related to: (1) treatment plant or water distribution systems certification programs; and (2) the waste tire management fund. Transfers certain powers and duties of the repealed boards to the consolidated board. Broadens the requirements for the appointment of one member of the board of animal health. Repeals the following committees, commissions, and boards: (1) Office of community and rural affairs advisory council. (2) Tobacco farmers and rural community impact fund. (3) Indiana arts commission trust fund board. (4) Council on library automation. (5) Library advisory council. (6) Law enforcement, school policing, and youth work group. (7) Affordable housing and community development fund advisory committee. (8) Indiana tourism council. (9) Indiana health informatics corporation. (10) Ohio River bridges project commission. (11) Veterans' home advisory committee. (12) Mental health corrections quality advisory committee. (13) Distressed unit appeal board. (14) Department of local government finance rule adoption committee. (15) Natural resources advisory council. (16) Courthouse preservation advisory commission. (17) Rural community water supply loan program. (18) Water shortage task force. (19) Water resources task force. (20) Corporation for educational technology. (21) Educational technology council. (22) School air quality panel. (23) Building and trades advisory committee. Makes conforming changes.
A DPA committee report on HB 1002 has been filed by the Select Committee on Governmental Reductions, but a reprinted bill reflecting the committee changes is not yet available.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 21, 2012 09:22 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government