Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb recently signed into law a bill allowing a board that oversees the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to increase its fees for environmental permitting. This law is a solution to legislators’ reluctance to increase fees that support environmental programs. According to proponents, adjusted fees will bring Indiana’s permitting costs to industry closer to those in surrounding states.
IDEM Commissioner Bruno Pigott strongly supported the bill as a solution to budget challenges. “My idea is to move the venue for where you consider [fee increases] from the Legislature to the boards that oversee agencies like ours,” Pigott reportedly told Inside EPA at the ECOS Spring Meeting in April. That process would allow “states to make the case for fee increases in an era when fee increases are seen as tax increases, and tax increases are seen as detrimental to a public official’s ability to get reelected.”
Pigott also noted that it’s a challenge for regulators to educate new lawmakers on their programs during the short legislative session. Fees have not been raised since 1994, and any fee increase would have required a lengthy rulemaking process.