INDIANAPOLIS – House Bill (HB) 1318 will not move forward this year, according to the Chairman of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, Senator Doug Eckerty (R-Yorktown). The deadline for House Bills to receive a committee hearing was yesterday, and the Chairman cited two concerns for not placing the bill on a committee schedule. The first concern being an Indiana Supreme Court ruling that concerned “special” targeted legislation being unconstitutional, and the second, not allowing the state legislature to get involved with local disputes, especially when the entities involved are working to resolve the issue. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) worked closely with Sen. Eckerty as the bill transitioned over to the Senate from the House of Representatives. Sen. Melton had the following comments upon the bill’s failure to receive a committee hearing:
“More than most, I understand the compelling challenges imposed on the City of Gary by blight and the severe amount of demolition required to address it. Equally, I recognize the severe burden these challenges place on the city’s public safety and economic development efforts. However, there are a number of unresolved issues presented in HB 1318 and hearing the very clear voice of the members of my community has added to my clarity. It is for this reason that I support the bill not moving forward.
“It is because of these unique circumstances that I chose to be added as a sponsor to ensure that I could follow this bill every step of the way through the legislative process. However, in the time since its passage in the House, we have been unable to reconcile many of the issues that I believe are inherent in this legislation.
“These issues included; the 600 feet parameter where this waste site could be located in proximity to residential neighborhoods, the undisclosed location of the proposed site, the environmental concerns raised by the community and the intent to accept construction and demolition waste from outside communities.
“Finally, a key concern in this proposal was the rather ambiguous portion of the language that references the need for the City of Gary to petition the Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) seeking designation as a politically distressed political subdivision.
“Since this bill is technically dead in the Senate due to the committee report deadline that was reached yesterday, I’ll be watching to see if this language appears in any other bills during the conference committee process which would be the absolute last possibility for this bill to pass out of the Indiana legislature this year.
“It is my hope that after this legislative session, the city will be able to work collaboratively with both state and local stakeholders to address the concerns presented in HB 1318.”