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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Governor Pence appoints nominating commission members for IURC"

Jesse Wilson of TheStatehouseFile.com had a story Dec. 10th reporting that:

Gov. Mike Pence selected new members for the nominating commission for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The members will serve a four-year terms that start immediately and runs through 2017.
Pence's selections are Gwendolyn Horth as chair, Eric Scroggins, and John Blevins. More from the story:
The nominating committee is made up of seven members, three of which are appointed by the governor, one that is selected by the speaker of the House of Representatives, one by the pro tempore of the Senate, one by the minority leader of the Senate, and one from the minority leader of the House.
Details on the IURC Nominating Commission are sparse, there does not appear to be a website. This Jan. 13, 2011 news release from Gov. Daniels stated in part:
When a vacancy occurs on the IURC, applications are solicited from the public and accepted by a seven member nominating committee. The committee, comprising four legislative and three gubernatorial appointments, screens the applications and conducts interviews that are open to the public. After conducting the public interviews, the nominating committee recommends three candidates to the governor who then names a new member to the commission.

Members of the nominating committee [in 2011] are committee chair William Stephan, Jennifer Messer, Greg Gibson, Mark Pope, Susan Sandberg, Larry Buell and June Lyle.

Here is the statute, IC 8-1-1.5, Utility Regulatory Commission Nominating Committee. The statute regarding the membership of the Commission itself is IC 8-1-1-2 and includes these requirement: "at least one (1) of whom shall be an attorney qualified to practice law before the supreme court of Indiana and not more than three (3) of whom belong to the same political party".

Here are the current five Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission members (Atterholt, Ch., Bennett, Landis, Mays, and Ziegner). Clicking on a photo brings up the date of appointment and when the term expires.

But, as Laura Arnold reported Nov. 10th in the blog, IndianaDG:

INDIANAPOLIS (11/08/13) – Commissioner Kari Bennett has announced her resignation from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). Bennett was first appointed in January 2011 by Governor Mitch Daniels. * * *

Her term is scheduled to expire March 2014. Bennett replaced former chairman David Lott Hardy and is serving the remainder of a four-year term that ends on March 31, 2014. Former Governor Mitch Daniels fired Hardy.

This is the second Commissioner to announce their departure from the IURC in recent months. On 09/23/13, Commissioner Larry Landis announced his retirement. His term expires December 2015.

ILB: Among the issues the IURC may have to consider in coming months is the Rockport coal gasification plant (Indiana Gas) deal. The case was argued before the Supreme Court on Sept. 5th and a decision by the Court pending. As the Indianapolis Star's John Russell reported on the day of the oral argument:
A company that wants build a $2.8 billion plant in Rockport that would turn coal into synthetic gas urged the Indiana Supreme Court today to allow the deal to go ahead, saying legal problems with the contract have been fixed.

But opponents said the company has no right to amend the 30-year deal, which an appeals court struck down last month, without another review by state regulators.

The Supreme Court heard arguments for 45 minutes this morning in a case that could decide the outcome of the controversial plant. The proposed deal, years in the making, has pitted some of some powerful utilities and citizens groups against in the state against the developer and its supporters.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled last fall that the contract improperly would have forced a group of big industries to shoulder a portion of the plant’s costs or share in its benefits. That was not what lawmakers intended in 2009 when they authorized the Indiana Finance Authority to negotiate the deal, the appeals court ruled.

Attorneys for Indiana Gasification [Norman Funk] said the problems identified by the appeals court were small and have been fixed with an amended contract between the company and the Indiana Finance Authority.

The company asked the court to find the amended contract “perfectly fine,” and declare the Indiana law that held it up to be unconstitutional.

“Let the contract go forward with no impairment,” said Karl L. Mulvaney, an attorney for Indiana Gasification.

But Norman Funk, an attorney for Vectren Energy and other opponents of the deal, said the the parties must negotiate an “all-or-nothing contract,” and any changes need to go back to the regulatory commission for review.

He said that under the principle of separation of powers, the Supreme Court could not simply approve editing changes to the deal.

“This court cannot blue-line this kind of contract,” Funk said. “We believe that would be a usurpation of the executive branch.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 12, 2013 01:44 PM
Posted to Indiana Government