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SB 389 Wetlands Bill

The short version: SB389

The House Environmental Affairs Committee will vote on the anti-wetlands bill (SB 389) Monday, March 29.  Two options have been proposed for revising the bill, Amendment 11 and Amendment 12.  SB 389 would eliminate protection of state-regulated wetlands, and both amendments would drastically reduce their protection.  Determining the best wetland policy for the state deserves a task force where there can be thorough discussion of an array of options among all of the stakeholders.  Please write to Chairman Gutwein (, Representative Lehman (, and Speaker Huston (

a.) tell them why you feel wetland protection is important

b.) urge them to oppose SB 389 and Amendments 11 and 12

c.) urge them to support a Wetlands Task Force.

More details:

House Environmental Affairs Committee met yesterday (March 22) and heard testimony on SB 389 and on potential amendments 11 and 12.  Every person who signed up to testify was heard, though they were limited to three minutes.  14 people spoke against the bill and 5 spoke in favor.  One spoke against the bill but in favor of amendment 12.  There was insufficient time for anyone to discuss the details of how Indiana's current wetland law works, the details of SB 389, the details of the amendments, or what other policy options might be possible.

Amendment 12 to SB 389 is supposed to be a compromise that revises Indiana's wetlands law instead of repealing it, but it would significantly reduce wetland protection.  It enlarges the sizes of wetlands that can be destroyed without a wetland permit and allows destruction of any size of class I or class II wetland within a municipal boundary as long as the owner of the project provides information on the economic and social need for the project and the "lack of reasonable alternative".  There are no provisions to authorize IDEM to deny the application, so Amendment 12 essentially repeals protection for all class I and class II wetlands within a municipal boundary.  As a perceptive person said, "a loophole big enough to drive a herd of bulldozers through".

Amendment 11 would repeal protection for all of the following:  all class I wetlands statewide,  class II wetlands up to 1/2 acre, Class III wetlands up to 1/4 acre, class II and III wetlands inside a municipal boundary up to 1 acre.  It left very few wetlands protected. As another perceptive person said, "a repeal dressed up to look like a revision".

Amendment 11 was written by Senator Garten.  Amendment 12 was negotiated by IDEM and the senate authors of the bill (Senators Messmer and Garten), but IDEM was negotiating under duress.  The threat was SB 389 as it passed the Senate, which is a full repeal of the wetlands law.

The House Environmental Affairs Committee will vote on SB 389 or one of the amendments Monday, March 29.  They have the option of voting to defeat the bill instead of amending it.  They also have the option of creating a task force to examine all of the issues around Indiana's wetlands and what policy would be best going forward.

If you have time, please send your comments on saving Indiana's state-protected wetlands to those listed above, and the members of the House Environmental Affairs Committee:

VICE CHAIR: Mike Speedy

Mike Aylesworth

Beau Baird

John Jacob

Don Lehe

J.D. Prescott

Hal Slager

Jeff Thompson

Sue Errington

Maureen Bauer

Pat Boy

Carolyn Jackson