Editorial Roundup: Indiana

Indianapolis Business Journal. November 4, 2022.

Editorial: Hydrogen hub holds promise of bright future

The development of hydrogen as a widespread energy source is still in its infancy, but opportunities to get in on the ground floor shouldn't be ignored.

Cummins Inc. already has laid the foundation for a strong Indiana foray into using hydrogen as a fuel. The Columbus-based company has invested millions in hydrogen technology since 2019.

Now it has joined a Hoosier coalition that includes the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and others to try to land a portion of the $7 billion the U.S. Department of Energy is offering through its Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs, or H2Hubs, program.

The IEDC is smart to take a leading role in this effort. Not only will it open new economic opportunities for the state, but hydrogen also holds the promise of helping to decarbonize much of the U.S. economy and slow the effects of climate change.

Hydrogen, which releases no carbon when burned, could be the key to decarbonizing industries that are now dependent on fossil fuels, such as trucking and rail shipping, airways and more.

Around the world, new ventures in hydrogen power are coming to fruition. As CNN reported, Germany recently unveiled 14 hydrogen-powered passenger trains. Airbus has also announced plans to test hydrogen-powered planes in 2026.

Cummins also is a leader in hydrogen technology. Known for diesel engines that power heavy transport, it now also produces hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles and electrolyzers that produce hydrogen.

Cummins also has a joint venture with NPROXX, a Netherlands-based company that makes high-pressure hydrogen storage tanks.

As IBJ's Susan Orr reported last week, the IEDC has enlisted Cummins, Purdue University, London-based BP plc and others to help Indiana land one of the six to 10 hydrogen hubs the federal government hopes to create.

The Energy Department plans to name the hubs next year, but the competition is expected to be stiff. At least 21 states are expected to compete.

Still, state and corporate officials are bullish on Indiana's chances. They say the industrial corridor in northwestern Indiana-with its steel mills, shipping industry and BP refinery at Whiting-is the perfect place to build momentum for hydrogen power in industries dominated by fossil fuel.

The area also includes natural underground caverns that could be ideal to capture carbon dioxide and reduce emissions.

Only time will tell if Indiana is successful in making its case. But we applaud the aggressiveness of the IEDC and the state's industries to pursue this once-in-a-generation opportunity to become the center of a potential source of new, clean power.

The state's hydrogen initiative, combined with its efforts to land federal funding for a regional tech hub and the development of computer-chip manufacturers, holds the promise of creating high-paying jobs for Hoosiers and putting the state on a bright economic path.


Anderson Herald Bulletin. November 2, 2022.

Editorial: State's quiet land deals cloud project and reaction

The rumblings started about a year ago.

A real estate company was quietly contacting Boone County property owners offering to buy them out.

Soon after the first of the year, word began to spread that the mystery buyer wasn't some private developer. It was the state of Indiana.

Still, the project was shrouded in secrecy. Those who had agreed to sell their land were barred from talking about it through a nondisclosure agreement they'd been required to sign.

News finally broke in May that Eli Lilly would invest $2.1 billion in a new plant on 600 acres the state had bought north of Lebanon. Plans called for the new facility to be the anchor for a high-tech business park.

What no one revealed at the time was that the economic development project would be the largest in state history.

This development might very well turn out to be a great thing for Boone County and the rest of the state. It's part of a long-term strategy to lure cutting-edge industries to Indiana.

Economic development officials see the project as part of a 70-mile research corridor they hope to develop along Interstate 65 between the state capital and the researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

They envision a site that will be home to hundreds of companies dealing in aerospace, agricultural technology, life sciences, microelectronics, sustainable energy, transportation and other industries of the future.

As of mid-June, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. had acquired the rights to about 6,000 acres, most of it farm ground. State officials say the final size of the development will depend on the market, but some suggest it could top 10,000 acres, roughly the size of the city of Lebanon.

Still, the secrecy surrounding the development in its early stages has left a sour taste in the mouths of some nearby residents.

Some look forward to the high-paying jobs developers promise, but others see the project as a threat to their rural way of life.

That's a discussion the state should have invited well before it started secretly buying up land for this development.

State officials defend themselves, saying they're still early in the process. It might take decades before their vision is fully realized, they say, and they have pledged to work with local elected officials and interested parties as the project moves forward.

That's the approach they should have been taking all along. Those whose lives will be changed by this project deserve to have their voices heard, and state and local officials have a responsibility to listen.


Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. November 4, 2022.

Editorial: Hoosier lawmakers again eye food, beverage tax change

The 'œhome rule'ť authority of Hoosier cities and counties '“ the ability to have discretion over government functions and structure, as well as fiscal and regulatory matters '“ was derived from the Home Rule Act of 1980. Yet it mostly enumerates a list of restrictions to such powers.

Local governments in Indiana are prohibited from imposing taxes, licenses or fees, investing money or even conducting elections unless the General Assembly votes to allow them to do so, according to 'œHome Rule in America: A Fifty State Handbook'ť by Dale Krane, Platon N. Rigos and Melvin B. Hill.

It wasn't until the mid-1980s that Hoosier lawmakers began approving food-and-beverage taxes for counties and municipalities to use as a fresh stream of revenue. Now some in the Statehouse want to clamp down on their uses.

Changes in how communities may use food-and-beverage taxes nearly were passed into law in March, after language found in Senate Bill 390 was moved into House Bill 1002. But the proposed restrictions to food-and-beverage tax uses '“ establishment of a process to renew or create such taxes and the sunsetting of a new food-and-beverage tax after 20 years '“ were struck from HB 1002 in conference committee.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, chair of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, told The Journal Gazette he wants to continue that discussion in the next legislative session.

'œI think it needs some cleanup,'ť Holdman said of food-and-beverage-tax regulations. 'œIt gets a lot of attention initially, when (local governments) say, '~This is what we're going to use the revenue for,' but then nobody actually comes back and does a check on it to make sure that that's what it does get used for.'ť

Allen County asked state legislators in 1986 to approve its 1% food-and-beverage tax '“ a user fee mostly charged to restaurant-goers '“ to pay off bonds for Memorial Coliseum construction. It paid off those bonds and, with legislative action in 2009, changed the name of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Convention and Tourism Board to the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board. Today the CIB is in charge of investing food-and-beverage-tax revenue in projects of public interest. The Riverfront Project, the Skyline Garage and two downtown hotels are recent beneficiaries.

Madison County, one of eight 'œdoughnut counties'ť surrounding Indianapolis, told lawmakers in 1989 its food-and-beverage tax would go toward building a convention center along the White River. The money never went to its original purpose. Officials eventually built a juvenile detention center with it, and the city of Anderson now uses a sizable portion of its share of food-and-beverage taxes to fund the economic development and municipal development departments in City Hall.

'œI don't think that's necessarily related to what you collect a food-and-beverage tax for,'ť Holdman said of Madison County's tax. He believes uses should be limited to quality-of-life projects and economic development.

Tim Pape, a former commissioner of the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board and past Fort Wayne City Council member, told the Indiana Capital Chronicle, 'œMost of the leaders advancing control or limits on the food-and-beverage tax are just, in my view, ideologically driven. They're out of sync, I think, with the overwhelming number of citizens who are strongly supportive of the investments that the food-and-beverage tax money goes to, at least in Fort Wayne.'ť

The Allen County food-and-beverage tax generated $8.9 million in 2021, said Bart Shaw, executive director of Grand Wayne Center. The first $2.6 million goes to Memorial Coliseum to pay off debt from raising its 1,200-ton roof to make way for luxury boxes and thousands of additional seats in 2002. The rest goes to the CIB to aid community development.

The latest bond issued by the CIB was in 2019 to expand the Civic Center Garage, Shaw said, and its pledge of $45'„million to Electric Works and $27 million to additional riverfront projects would not be affected by the food-and-beverage tax law changes proposed last year.

Though Holdman rightly questions the transparency of some local governments in their uses of food-and-beverage taxes, the General Assembly easily could set a 20-year expiration date on such taxes without dictating how communities may use the proceeds.


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