It was unrealistic to think Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb would step in and veto a number of bad bills passed by the overwhelmingly Republican General Assembly. While Holcomb provides a hope of thoughtfulness instead of the narrow ideology of former governor and current Vice President Mike Pence, it would have been shocking had he challenged his own party and their financial backers during his first four months in office.
That’s too bad. With his signature Monday, he joined lawmakers in saying the sun is the property of companies and not individuals and continued the erosion of local control, specifically for elected officials in Bloomington.
In regard to the sun, a lot of common citizens, faith leaders, local officials and businesses had strongly opposed Senate Bill 309, which relates to solar power. The bill phases out the practice of “net metering,” in which families, faith communities, small businesses, local governments and schools that invest in solar systems get full credit from utility companies for any excess energy collected that powers their neighbors. The bill would reduce the rate the utility companies would be required to pay the little guys, serving as a disincentive for small players to install solar.
The bill that received Holcomb’s signature and now will become law cedes the rooftop solar market to big energy companies at the expense of individuals who had been leading the state’s charge toward renewable energy.
The governor made it a point to add a comment to his lack of a veto, noting the bill would not harm existing solar customers.
“I support solar as an important part of Indiana’s comprehensive mix,” he stated. “I understand the concerns some have expressed, but this legislation ensures that those who currently have interests in small solar operations will not be affected for decades.”
No comment was made on signing Senate Bill 558, which includes a lot of elements about property owners and renters.
As noted in a previous editorial, the bill seems to target and halt Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton’s potential to use “inclusionary zoning” as an affordable-housing tool that would link the production of market rate housing with the production of affordable housing.
The new law prohibits county or municipal officials from requiring anything of private developers that would have the effect of controlling rental or sales prices of property or would reserve the sale or lease of property to specific persons, such as those of a specific income level.
Local officials should be left alone to make zoning decisions that are best for their communities. State lawmakers overstepped.