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