INDIANA CONSERVATION ALLIANCE
LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR 2015:
- Ask legislators to continue the $2 million general fund biennial appropriation for the Clean Water Indiana program (CWI).
- Ask legislators for increased funding for the Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) to $2.5 million in the second year of the biennium.
- Ask legislators for an overall increase in the budget for the Department of Natural Resources.
- Express INCA’s opposition to legislation, HB 1453, which legalizes shooting deer behind fences.
1. The Clean Water Indiana (CWI) program was created to protect and enhance the water quality of Indiana’s lakes, rivers and streams, by reducing the amount of polluted storm water runoff entering our surface and groundwater from urban and rural lands. We successfully advocated for a $2 million biennial general fund appropriation in the last budget and ask that the General Assembly again appropriate $1 million per year for CWI. (See fact sheet.)
2. The Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) protects important natural lands for state and local parks, forests, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves, state recreation areas and historic sites. We are asking for a $2.5 million appropriation in the second year of the biennium, at which time it is expected that all funds in the Bicentennial Nature Trust* will be committed. (See fact sheets.)
*The IHT had been the state’s only dedicated land acquisition program until Governor Daniels established the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT) in 2012 with a $20 million transfer of funds to the Natural Resources Foundation. Governor Daniels said he was creating the BNT, in his words, “to protect still more of our most precious natural spaces… a fitting sequel and bequest from our second century to our third.” The state’s $20 million was matched with $10 million from the Lilly Endowment. The BNT has been very successful. In 2 ½ years it has committed over $23 million for 115 projects in 54 counties. The State’s $20 million investment has leveraged over $30 million in private and nonstate dollars.
3. As of February 15 the Department of Natural Resources had 221 vacancies in permanent positions that could not be filled due to lack of funds. The DNR is one of our most important agencies in focusing not only on the quality of life, but also the quality of place for all Hoosiers, who greatly value our outdoor lands — in 2014 nearly 17 million people visited our state parks and state recreation areas. We are asking that the DNR proposed operating budget be increased sufficiently above the current budget levels to allow full staffing. INCA also asks that the DNR’s capital budget levels are brought closer to $70 million for the biennium, which offers a more sustainable level of funding for the ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation and repair required to properly manage all of the infrastructure and land owned by DNR.
House Bill 1453 (Hunting Preserves) was introduced and passed by the House by a vote of 55 to 39. The bill is now under consideration by the Senate. It has been assigned to the Rules Committee, which is chaired by Senator Long. He has asked those in the Senate with different views on this bill should work through the issues before it has a hearing. The Indiana Conservation Alliance opposed similar legislation in the last two sessions of the General Assembly and remains opposed to canned hunting. (See fact sheet)
Join your voice with others concerned for Indiana’s natural resource future —
We will soon be past the half way point of this session of the State Legislature which will determine the future of conservation and natural resources in Indiana for the next two years, and perhaps much longer than that.
Come to the Statehouse March 24th for coffee, meet with your legislator(s) and let them know that Indiana’s natural heritage is their responsibility to see that resources are available to preserve and protect it for future generations … hope to see you on the 24th.
The Indiana House Republicans announced their 2015 legislative agenda (click here). The theme of “Accountability” is prominent throughout. However the environment, natural resources, wildlife and climate, all are not included in their four focus areas.
Someone needs to be “accountable” to future generations for Indiana’s natural resources.
… INCA needs member support across the state as well.
To strengthen our “unified voice advocating for public funding for land, water, and wildlife“, the INCA is hosting a series of regional grassroots meetings to identify and engage conservation-minded citizens in the effort to secure meaningful public funding for conservation.
At these meetings, we will share information about INCA and provide a brief history of our conservation funding advocacy and the results. Most importantly, we want to talk to people locally to hear what is important to them to protect, what their communities are doing and how state programs might be useful. We want to find out how much people are or aren’t communicating with their legislators. If they’re not, how can we assist? If they are, we want to support and encourage them to continue and will do our best to provide them pertinent information or provide assistance as needed.
As you know we are in an era of reducing government, but as a former legislator told us, “priorities get funded in good times and priorities get funded in bad times.” We want to grow our influence with members of the general assembly – both in their districts and at the statehouse –to make conservation funding a statewide priority.
The meetings will be held in:
Date: Tuesday, August 26th
6 pm to 8 pm (EDT)
Location: Batesville Memorial Public Library
131 N. Walnut Street
New Albany/Jeffersonville/Clarksville area
Date: September 11, 6 to 8 p.m.
Location: Pineview Government Center
2524 Corydon Pike
New Albany, IN 47150
South Bend/Elkhart area
Date and location to be announced
For more information about a specific regional meeting, contact:
Senate Bill 404, “canned hunting” failed to pass by one vote to move to the House of Representatives for consideration. However that does not mean the subject is “dead” for this session. The language, that was Senate Bill 404, may indeed pass on, similar to the “button” in the children’s game. It can arise again as an amendment to another bill that has passed one chamber of the Legislature and is under consideration by the other chamber, either in the House or Senate.
A possibility exists that the “canned hunting button” may appear as an amendment in Senate Bill 52, Criminal Penalties & DNR. (As long as the topic of the amendment is sort of close to the original subject, it passes parliamentary muster.) Last year a similar “canned hunting” bill, SB 487 Shooting and Hunting Preserves, was passed by the Senate and the House, but didn’t make it out of Conference Committee. If “canned hunting” is amended into Senate Bill 52, you can get an idea of your Representatives position on it from his/her vote last year (click here).
Senate Bill 52 is assigned to the Corrections and Criminal Law committee in the House.
On the other hand, the “canned hunting button” may be amended into HB 1307 Various Natural Resource Matters, which passed in the House of Representatives and is being considered by the Senate now. It is assigned to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee who passed the original SB 404 out of committee only to have it fall one vote short of passage in the full Senate – two Senators were absent for the vote. (The amended bill would have to go to Conference Committee and if approved by that committee then be voted on by each chamber for final passage.)
In addition to the obvious ethical issues involved in “canned hunting” there is great risk of introducing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into Indiana’s natural deer population. Once introduced CWD cannot be contained or eliminated. Unlike the Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Carp the principle vector for CWD disease is the Interstate Highway system and the farms that raise captive deer.
Yesterday’s Conservation Day at the Statehouse, despite the bitter cold which closed Indianapolis’ City Government Offices, saw most of the 90 people registered and INCA organizations attend. 2013 Legislator of the Year awards were given to Senator Long and Representative Karickhoff and former Lt. Governor Becky Skillman updated the group on the Bi-Centennial Trust.
We are nearing the halfway point of this fast moving session and there are still bills and resolutions in play that affect Indiana’s conservation future – stay tuned. In addition to this website you can also follow us on Twitter @INConservation.
If you haven’t registered yet, do so now! Your interaction with your legislators is what makes INCA work. Register at the link above, and call your senator and representative and ask to meet them on the 28th. Do it now, while it is fresh in your mind and on your screen.
(We will have a weather advisory as to go or no go on this site if conditions warrant)