STATEHOUSE (March 9, 2012) – State Sen. Jim Tomes’ (R-Wadesville) initiative to protect Hoosiers from undue costly water and sewer rates received final Senate approval today. House Bill 1126 passed 45-4 and can move to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
If signed into law, HB 1126 would give residents a process to petition help from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) when water or sewer rate charges are unusually high. Tomes said this legislation is specifically meant to help county residents who live outside of a municipality and often see higher rates.
“This legislation gives individuals a vehicle to challenge unfair water rates,” Tomes said. “I’ve heard from Hoosiers, including many in Owensville, who live outside of the municipality and have seen their rates almost double. It’s no secret that folks continue to suffer financially, and we don’t want undue and costly utility rates taking more of their hard-earned paychecks. We don’t want to put them in a place where they can’t provide for their families or pay their bills.”
Under HB 1126, Hoosiers who live outside of a municipality and see a rate increase exceeding 15 percent may seek relief from an appeal.
Unlike most new laws that take effect July 1, HB 1126 would go into effect immediately because Tomes added an emergency clause to the bill. He said he’s particularly happy the Senate adopted this amendment.
“I don’t want to take a chance and see the utility companies increase their rates before July 1 in an effort to be grandfathered in,” Tomes said. “A provision in this bill prohibits any rates already approved by courts to be challenged.”
More information and a full copy of HB 1126 can be found by visiting the General Assembly’s website: http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2012&request=getBill&docno=1126.