Economic Development Committee update

The Study Committee on Economic Development met for the second time today at the Statehouse. Sen. Sue Errington of Muncie said the testimony during this meeting focused on Indiana’s advantages and disadvantages in promoting job creation. The committee is scheduled to meet again on October 5 at the Purdue Technology Center.

Watch Sen. Errington’s brief update on today’s meeting:

Audio: Errington applauds amendment to reinstate Meat and Poultry Inspection Program

State Senator Sue Errington of Muncie spoke in support of an amendment on Monday that reinstates the requirements of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program under the Indiana Board of Animal Health. Recent budget cuts threatened locally owned state-inspected meat processing facilities as well as an estimated 1,600 jobs in those processing facilities. Errington said that she has heard from many constituents who own local farms that are concerned that without the amendment to reinstate the inspections, the recent investments made in their farms would be threatened.

The provision was amended into Senate Bill 35 and will be heard for a final vote by the senate on Tuesday.

Listen to Sen. Errington’s comments from the Senate floor today:

Audio: Senate Democrats push for jobs bills in Senate

Today members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including Senator Tim Lanane, Senator Bob Deig, Senator Sue Errington, and Senator Vi Simpson, held a press conference introducing a series of legislative amendments today aimed at protecting Hoosier jobs and encouraging businesses to rehire laid off workers.

Listen to the full press conference below:

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Democrats’ clean energy amendments blocked in Senate

Indiana Senate Democrats were blocked by Republicans in a series of amendments on Senate Bill 313 to improve Indiana’s net metering policy.

Net metering regulations allow homeowners and businesses to generate their own electricity and roll their meters backward when they send any excess power back onto the electric grid.  Net metering allows anyone to participate in the energy economy while helping ensure a more reliable electric distribution system.

State Senator Jean Breaux of Indianapolis proposed an amendment to limit the size of net metering systems for utility customers who generate some of their own power through solar, wind or other means.

“Net metering is intended to promote small renewable energy systems for homeowners, farmers, office buildings, schools, and city and county governments,” said Breaux. “This amendment would make sure that customers are constructing their renewable energy systems for their own estimated annual use and not for profit.”

Listen to Senator Breaux’s comments from the Senate floor:

State Sentator Sue Errington of Muncie proposed an amendment to allow for monthly rollover of credit for excess generation on a rolling annual basis rather than on a monthly basis as the original bill language dictates. Monthly rollover allows the customer to receive year-round benefit from their generation system providing a better return on investment and quicker pay-back to consumers.

“We must make net metering work for consumers by enabling them to get a fair return on the energy they produce,” said Errington. “This amendment encourages the installation of renewable energy equipment and saves consumers money by crediting them for the energy they create.”

Listen to Senator Errington’s comments from the Senate floor:

State Senator John Broden of South Bend proposed an amendment that provides that a single customer whose energy consumption is recorded on more than one meter may be credited the full amount on one electric bill. This would benefit businesses, farmers and local government units that have multiple buildings or facilities, each with their own meter.

The amendments would encourage clean energy production by schools, businesses and homeowners. All three amendments failed.

What is net metering?

Net metering allows for the measurement of both the usage and production of electricity. Small-scale renewable energy production has grown in popularity through the use of modern wind mills, high efficiency solar panels, and other mechanisms. The practice can reduce the demand from power plants and increase the amount of alternative energy available on the utility grid.

Where does Indiana stand?

42 other states have adopted a net metering policy. Indiana, however, has one of the lowest individual system capacity limits (see map). Indiana’s current net metering policy received an F from The Network for New Energy Choices, a national energy policy organization.

Tax credits for homegrown energy:

Indiana offers state property tax exemptions for the installation of geothermal technologies. For more information please contact Donna Palmer with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management at 317-233-0478.

Property tax exemption information for the installation of solar and wind technologies can be found by contacting your local county auditor or county assessor.

Video & Audio: Errington legislation seeks to expand local and organic food industry

State Sen. Sue Errington has proposed a measure that would encourage expansion of Indiana’s local and organic food production. Senate Bill 194 was heard in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Small Business Committee today, but the committee’s chair did not permit a vote on the bill.

Listen to Senator Errington discuss Senate Bill 194:

Errington originally proposed the creation of a new state task force to work with local farmers and grocers to expand local and organic food production and distribution. Today she suggested that she would instead draw from a similar program already being implemented by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), eliminated the cost of an additional state body. Under the new plan, a comprehensive report of the existing program’s impact and findings would be sent to the legislature to inform policy makers technology and logistics necessary to expand and modernize Indiana’s local and organic food network. Errington said this is important right now so Indiana can move forward in this industry during better economic times.

The report would focus on ten program goals:

  1. Establish training and development
  2. Make local and organic foods more accessible
  3. Build connections
  4. Build local food infrastructure
  5. Develop new food and agriculture businesses
  6. Develop farmers markets and create year-round markets
  7. Research development
  8. Educate public and producers
  9. Identify legal impediments
  10. Identify stakeholders
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Video & Audio: State of the State Response

Governor Mitch Daniels delivered his sixth State of the State Address to a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly tonight.  Watch, listen, or read Governor Daniels’ address here >

Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson responded saying she was disappointed by the lack of vision for the future of Indiana as the state recovers from the recession. She said the focus of the rest of the legislative session needs to be putting Hoosiers back to work, and she hopes to see more leadership from the governor on that effort.

Watch the video below to hear her comments:

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Watch and listen to more Senate Democrat responses below:

State Senator Jim Arnold, District 8

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State Senator Bob Deig, District 49

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State Senator Sue Errington, District 26

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State Senator Lindel Hume, District 48

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State Senator Tim Lanane, District 25

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