Rep. Ellington has proposed an amendment to SB 386 which has to do with funding flood control projects. Rep. Ellington’s amendment would roll the text of HB 1289 which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago into SB 386. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the scope of this language is breathtaking. When you break it down, it says that “a county, city, town, or township may not regulate the extraction of mineral resources on private property.” [Edited: Originally, I said that this would affect things like the Carmel ordinance. I think it has been edited so that now it would not — it now says that a unit may not regulate the development of natural resources on private property outside the of the corporate boundaries of a municipality – a “municipality” is a city or town. So, the County couldn’t regulate your mine if it was just outside the city boundary, but it looks like the city may be able to regulate things inside the boundary line.] This means that citizens in unincorporated places like Boonville and Americus can’t go to their County Commissioners to ask for help if someone is blasting rock on their neighbor’s property at 3 a.m. or altering the flood plain with the spoil from their excavation.
I’ll take a moment to walk through the main portion of the text by way of explanation:
It adds a new IC 36-7-39, section 3 of which reads, “A unit may not regulate the development of natural resources on private property.” Section 1 states that “development of natural resources” includes “the extraction of mineral resources.” A “unit” means a county, municipality, or township. And, a municipality means a city or town. Put that all together, and it says that, “a county, city, town, or township may not regulate the extraction of mineral resources on private property.”
The original HB 1289 passed through in the House, in large part I believe, because legislators didn’t really understand what was being proposed. I think they thought this was just about some trees in Boonville and the legislation wouldn’t have a lot of statewide implications. When word started to get out about the scope of this thing, it seems that the Senate Committee on Natural Resources wasn’t inclined to give 1289 a hearing. So, you get maneuvers like this, where Rep. Ellington is trying to have it inserted in a bill that has already cleared the Senate. If successful, the bill would then be able to circumvent the regular committee process in the Senate, only having to clear a conference committee and the full Senate.
Hopefully House members will be a little more skeptical of the implications of the mining language if this Amendment receives a floor vote.