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Blowing in the wind

Earlier this year State Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, told residents of Tipton County that he would seek to have a legislative summer study committee appointed to study the benefits and impact of wind farms in the state.

Buck did get a resolution passed authorizing the committee, but the leadership in the Indiana House and Senate declined to appoint a committee.

Last week, Buck indicated there was little chance of studying the wind energy issue this year, and also noted no legislation was introduced concerning wind farms. This is a concern for wind farm opponents.

The legislature rarely takes on a big issue without first hashing out some ground rules, either in a summer study session or through committee hearings on an actual bill. Since no one filed a bill, and since the legislative leadership won’t assign a summer study committee, there’s a good bet nothing will happen on the wind energy front when the legislature meets next year.

Usually the legislative protocol works like this: First, file a bill, get it as far in the process as you can and see if it draws any interest; knowing it won’t pass the first year. Second, press to have the issue dealt with in a summer study committee. Third, bring the bill back in the next legislative session, properly vetted this time and see how much further it gets. Keep doing this until you get the bill, almost certainly in a form far different than its first incarnation, passed.

Several members of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, opposed to wind energy, believe Buck’s move was a form of appeasement for the next election cycle.