(Edited: Thanks to Phil’s comment, I see I missed a good headline on my first draft. Should’ve called this one “DTF: The Bad Boys of Drainage!”)
Sen. Leising has introduced SB 85 establishing the “Drainage Task Force.” It calls for a task force of mainly state officials to review whether the state/local balance of authority over drainage matters is appropriate. And it asks vaguely loaded questions such as “whether the objective inherent in drainage law, that of simply draining agricultural land, is yielding to conservation and pollution control objectives.’ I’ll acknowledge that draining agricultural land was likely the primary objective of the original drainage laws, but I don’t think there is anything “inherent” about that. It’s tough to say that increasing agricultural output is a proper use of government powers while limiting damage to other people by regulating pollution is not.
The task force would consist of 12 legislators, 1 member of DNR, one member of a county drainage board, one member of a soil & water conservation district, a member of the “American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers,” and a member of a statewide farm organization. (I’d guess the latter would be the Indiana Farm Bureau, but maybe there are other options.) That feels like way too many legislators to be useful. I’d also suggest getting a variety of County Surveyors involved — probably at least one from a primarily rural county, one from a primarily urban county, and one from a county with a good mix of urban and rural.
Drainage is one of those topics that’s so important. But it’s one of those things that’s invisible until something goes wrong.