The wetlands bill is headed to Holcomb's desk

A bill that's causing plenty of discussions is headed to the governor's desk.

Posted: Apr 15, 2021 12:17 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- Senate Bill 389 has gained attention from environmentalists, farmers, and builders across the state. Some are in support of the bill, but some are also concerned.

On Tuesday, the Indiana House of Representatives passed SB 389 with a 58 to 40 vote. This version excluded an amendment that would preserve the protection of most wetlands in the state.
This exclusion upset many state environmentalists.

"We were very disappointed in the version of this bill that passed the house yesterday. Indiana is a water-rich state and we need to be careful with our water resources," said Indra Frank, Environmental & Water Policy Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 31 to 19 in agreement with that House version of the bill. This version takes away the law that requires a permit and or certification for Class I wetland activities only.
A Class I wetland is an isolated wetland that has been affected by human activity by at least 50% and or supports only minimal wildlife or aquatic habitat. The bill also clarified the definition of a Class II wetland and the appropriate regulations for Class II and Class III wetlands.

Jeff Cummins, the Indiana Farm Bureau Associate Director of Policy Engagement, said the bureau supports the new form of SB 389.
He explained to News 10 that this version would help farmers in more ways than one.

"When it comes to clarifying Class II wetlands, clarity on tile drain maintenance and repair, clarity and protection regulatory relief on ephemeral streams, and some of the increased efficiencies on permitting, those are the top four issues that Farm Bureau wanted to see resolved. I think we have those, and we're grateful that a compromised version was adopted," said Cummins.

The bill also includes an Indiana Wetlands Task Force that will consist of 14 members who research and develop recommendations for wetland-related issues across the state. The group will also receive support from the Department of Natural Resources.

Since SB 389 has passed the general assembly, it's now headed to Governor Eric Holcomb's desk.
If you'd like to send your thoughts on the bill to the governor, you can find his contact information below:
Email: govholcomb@gov.in.gov
Number: 317-232-4567

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