Following is a list of some of the bills Indiana Farm Bureau will be tracking as the legislative session progresses.
The top priority for INFB this session is to establish a framework and tools to extend broadband to the last mile, and several bills addressing broadband have been filed:
- HB1065, which would update mapping related to broadband availability, authorize the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to study broadband expansion and tools that may be used to assist in its deployment, and require the state to develop priority areas for broadband expansion. Farm Bureau supports the bill but is seeking amendments.
- HB1297, which would amend Indiana law to define an area as "unserved" by broadband if the available service doesn’t meet minimum thresholds. Currently, the FCC standard is 25 mbps download speed. Farm Bureau supports the bill.
- SB356, which would establish a grant program in the Office of Community and Rural Affairs to support broadband-ready communities and school corporations in broadband-ready communities. Farm Bureau supports this measure as well.
Numerous bills have been filed to address issues related to involuntary annexation, including SB261, which would void any waiver of the right to remonstrate if the waiver was not recorded within 30 days of execution. INFB is part of a coalition that is actively seeking changes to the annexation laws. While supporting SB261, INFB asked for consideration of limiting all remonstrance waivers to 15 years while allowing for a short period of time in which waivers could still be recorded if they have not previously been documented. INFB has asked that the Senate Committee on Local Government consider closing the economic development loophole put into the law in 2015 that allows for a municipality to overcome the will of the landowners to stop an annexation by claiming it is for economic development.
Protecting livestock and poultry farms
SB316, which is opposed by Farm Bureau, would make significant changes to the laws governing confined feeding operations. Among many provisions, it would require regulation for odor, increase setbacks from residences to 1 mile and would also change the protections provided to farmers under the right-to-farm law. It has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
SB232 would establish the Access to Food Program under the administration of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, and the purpose of the program would be to focus on distribution of fresh and nutritious food and education in food preparation and nutrition in food deserts. The bill is supported by Farm Bureau.
Other bills impacting agriculture
HB1098 provides the State Chemist and Seed Commissioner with the power to adopt emergency rules. Farm Bureau has testified in support.