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House, Senate Democrats call on governor to veto destructive wetlands bill

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana House Democratic Caucus and the Senate Democratic Caucus sent a joint letter to Governor Holcomb, urging him to veto Senate Enrolled Act 389, which would risk the destruction of more than 50% of Indiana's existing wetlands by stripping state environmental protections.

Democrats on the House Committee on Environmental Affairs spoke out against SEA 389 last week when it was presented for a final vote the House floor, but failed to win a majority vote.

The bill passed through the House with a vote of 58-40, with multiple House Republicans, including the Chair of the House Committee on Environmental Affairs, joining Democrats in opposition. It now moves to the Governor's desk, where it has one final chance to be defeated.

Read the full letter, signed by all Democratic members of the General Assembly as well as a member of the Senate Republican Caucus, below:

 


 

Dear Governor Holcomb,

The undersigned members of the General Assembly respectfully request your veto of SEA 389, the bill that significantly reduces protections of Indiana's isolated wetlands. It will eliminate protection for all Class I wetlands and significantly reduce protections for Class II, leaving approximately 300,000 protected acres of wetlands of the State's 5,600,000 total acres.

If signed, SEA 389 will jeopardize more than 50% of our currently protected wetlands because they have been protected as Class I. Almost 40% of the remainder are Class II. These changes jeopardize wetlands' beneficial properties of water storage (flood control), water supply management (drinking water), wildlife habitats, and water quality functions because they will no longer be protected under state law.

While private property rights were raised in debate, we must also consider the property rights of those whose homes and businesses will be negatively impacted by newly displaced water.

90 organizations signed a letter calling on the General Assembly to preserve wetlands and consider policy alternatives. Those organizations include hunting and fishing groups, river commissions, lake associations, faith groups, architects, environmental and conservation groups, and even cities and sanitary districts. See attached letter.

Enacting this bill will have long term consequences and we need more in-depth study than what was accomplished in limited committee times during a legislative session in a pandemic. We owe it to the people of Indiana to give this issue the comprehensive consideration it deserves.

Please veto Senate Enrolled Act 389.

 

Sincerely,

Sue Errington - RMM, Environmental Affairs, House District 34

Maureen Bauer – Member, Environmental Affairs, House District 6

Pat Boy – Member, Environmental Affairs, House District 9

Carolyn B. Jackson – Member, Environmental Affairs, House District 1

Mike Andrade – House District 12

Terri Austin – House District 36

John L. Bartlett – House District 95

Chris Campbell – House District 26

Ed DeLaney – House District 86

Ryan Dvorak – House District 8

Rita Fleming – House District 71

Leader Phil GiaQuinta – House District 80

Mitch Gore – House District 89

Carey Hamilton – House District 87

Earl L. Harris, Jr. – House District 2

Ragen Hatcher – House District 3

Ryan Hatfield – House District 77

Blake Johnson – House District 100

Sheila Klinker – House District 27

Justin Moed – House District 97

Chuck Moseley – House District 10

Renee Pack – House District 92

Tonya Pfaff – House District 43

Matt Pierce – House District 61

Gregory W. Porter – House District 96

Cherrish Pryor – House District 94

Robin Shackleford – House District 98

Vernon G. Smith – House District 14

Vanessa Summers – House District 99

Ron Alting – Senate District 22

Jean Breaux – Senate District 34

J.D. Ford – Senate District 29

Tim Lanane – Senate District 25

Eddie D. Melton – Senate District 3

Frank Mrvan – Senate District 1

David Niezgodski – Senate District 10

Fady Qaddoura – Senate District 30

Lonnie M. Randolph – Senate District 2

Karen Tallian – Senate District 4

Leader Greg Taylor – Senate District 33

Shelli Yoder – Senate District 40

 

CC: Chris Creighton, Office of the Governor

Earl Goode, Office of the Governor

Commissioner Bruno L. Pigott, IDEM

Brian Rockensuess, IDEM

Director Daniel W. Bortner, DNR

David Bausman, DNR

Speaker Todd Huston

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