September 5, 2014
ANNEXATION TOPIC OF DISCUSSION IN STUDY COMMITTEE The discussion about involuntary annexation moved from the communities across the state into the statehouse. Chairperson Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) convened the newly configured Interim Study Committee (ISC) on Government on Aug. 25. Citizens from Huntington and Fortville provided compelling testimony about their experiences with trying to combat involuntary annexation. Katrina Hall, director of state government relations, provided observations from more than 20 areas across the state that have contacted Indiana Farm Bureau for assistance in fighting off forced annexations. Hall also outlined reforms that IFB members will be requesting to the annexation law. The committee will meet again on Sept. 24 to hear testimony and Oct. 22 to propose a final report.
STUDY COMMITTEE DISCUSSES WATER, ENERGY AND ANNEXATION The ISC on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications heard seven hours of testimony on Sept. 2. The first three hours focused on water availability and demand, as well as needs for water resource planning. The afternoon was spent focusing on territories of REMCs and municipal utilities. The Indiana Electric Cooperatives and the investor owned utilities like Duke Energy discussed the financial ramifications of transfer of electric territory that can occur as a result of annexation. Cities and towns with a municipal utility can take over annexed territory which impairs the incumbent utilities and makes electricity more expensive for the customers left in their service areas. Farm Bureau staff did not provide testimony but will continue to be engaged on these issues in the coming months.
REKEWEG NAMED ISDA DEPUTY DIRECTOR Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann named Melissa Rekeweg the new deputy director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Ellspermann says Rekeweg will be a great addition to the ISDA team. “As we focus on the future of modern agriculture and agribusiness in Indiana, her work with students and young farmers brings a helpful perspective to the agency,” she said. Indiana Farm Bureau staff looks forward to working with Deputy Director Rekeweg. Read more.
FARM BUREAU HOSTS DRAINAGE SCHOOL Indiana Farm Bureau once again hosted a sold-out drainage school with 125 individuals in attendance. The drainage school is targeted to landowners, farmers, attorneys, surveyors and county drainage board members. The program this year focused on water resource planning, surface water laws, dams and levees. It also included updates on recent legislation and the proposed rule defining Waters of the U.S. by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
ACTION NEEDED: HOUSE TO CONSIDER WATERS OF THE U.S. LEGISLATION NEXT WEEK Earlier this summer, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078) was introduced by U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.). The bill was in response to the EPA and Army Corps’ proposed Waters of the U.S. rule that would significantly expand federal jurisdiction and regulation of both wet and dry land features. The bill prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering or enforcing the proposed WOTUS rule. The bill would also require the EPA and the Corps to engage in a federalism consultation with the states and local governments. H.R. 5078 will be considered on the House floor as early as Sept. 9.
In addition to submitting comments to the EPA on the proposed rule, Indiana Farm Bureau members are encouraged to contact their congressional members expressing their support of H.R. 5078 and asking them to vote YES.
ACTION STILL NEEDED ON WATERS OF THE U.S. RULE After eleven regional presentations with approximately 400 people in attendance, the Farm Bureau road show discussing concerns with the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule is finished. Now the focus is on submitting comments. Members and county Farm Bureaus are asked to continue submitting comments to both EPA and to Congress. For information on how to submit comments visit the Waters of Indiana website under the take action tab. County Farm Bureaus are encouraged to work with other local partners such as county government to submit joint comments. If you need help submitting comments or to report any contact made with EPA or legislators that is not made through the water rule website, please contact Justin Schneider.
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