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Indiana lawmakers dial back controversial wetlands bill

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INDIANAPOLIS  — Lawmakers watered down a controversial bill seeking to remove protections from Indiana’s already diminished wetlands amid mounting criticism that the proposal could cause damage to the state’s waterways, wildlife and vegetation.

If passed, the measure would eliminate a 2003 law that requires the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to issue permits in a state-regulated wetland and end enforcement proceedings against landowners allegedly violating current law.

An amendment approved unanimously by the House environmental affairs committee Wednesday scales back the intended repeal.

Instead of excluding all classes of wetlands from permitting requirements, specific permitting exemptions are provided for croplands and ephemeral streams. The bill now heads to the House floor.

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