2017 Legislative Session
Aim wants to work closely with you on key initiatives that will empower Indiana cities and towns as part of a longer-term, more collaborative approach to our legislative efforts. Many of our initiatives will focus on quality of place; we want to maximize quality of life for local residents while attracting and retaining the world’s best companies and most talented workers.
Our priorities for 2017 involve:
Building and nurturing Indiana communities by enhancing infrastructure, reasonable funding options, and healthcare, and
Finding ways to make governance work better for the benefit of all Hoosiers.
Aim 2017 Legislative Priorities
Building and nurturing quality places
These are broad-based, multifaceted initiatives. We expect to work toward achieving these goals over a period of years through the passage of legislation, policy changes, administrative directives, and education.
Enhancing municipal infrastructure
Basic transportation infrastructure systems, including roads, streets, and public ways, are among the core services provided by cities and towns. Aim will work toward expanding dedicated long-term revenue sources available to municipalities so that we can properly maintain these systems and meet the future needs of Hoosier communities.
Moving toward a modern funding structure
Many municipalities face challenges in providing basic government services that their citizens expect in maintaining and improving their quality of life; this is due to statutory and constitutional restraints on revenue options, as well as differing levels of wealth between communities. Aim will examine the limitations and systematic problems with the historic methods of funding local Indiana government, and then advocate for reforms through systematic advances.
Keeping Hoosiers healthy
Creating and supporting quality places requires a multifaceted approach, and we can’t ignore the extreme challenges our communities are facing in the areas of opioid addictions, the mental health system, and an overloaded criminal justice system. Aim will partner with key stakeholders to find innovative solutions to combat these serious problems.
These initiatives will involve common sense changes that will help local governments operate more efficiently and effectively.
Reducing federal regulatory burdens
Each year, local governments receive more than $225 million for road infrastructure projects from federal sources. But unlike state or locally funded projects, federally funded projects must meet burdensome requirements throughout the planning and construction phases – causing added delays and expenses. Aim will champion legislation that allows the state to exchange the federal money awarded to municipalities with state money; this exchange will enable municipalities to complete projects quicker, cheaper, and easier by freeing them from federal mandates.
Improving the timeliness of state revenue distributions
Aim believes that Indiana’s property assessment system needs additional resources. Due to the large number of property tax appeal cases, there is a backlog of cases waiting to come before the Indiana Board of Tax Review and the Indiana Tax Court, which prevents municipalities from receiving timely distributions of property tax revenues. Aim will advocate for a study committee to examine the IBTR and Tax Court backlog and the resources necessary to rectify the problem.
Enabling a more equitable distribution of court fees
Municipalities must prosecute at least 50% of ordinance and infraction violations in the Superior Court or Circuit Court in order to receive a share of court fees generated from these violations. However, when a violator is allowed to enter a deferral program, it does not qualify as a prosecution. Aim will pursue legislation to change the formula to more equitably distribute court fee revenue without discouraging participation in deferral programs.
Creating an alternative notice requirement for public hearings
Cities and towns are required to publish notice in at least one qualified newspaper before hearings or decisions can be made in a variety of public matters. However, when a newspaper fails to publish a notice in a timely manner, the entire project may be delayed in order for the municipality to comply with the publication statute. Aim will pursue legislation to provide an alternative way to post the notice instead of publishing it in the event that a newspaper fails to properly publish an ad.
Increasing the power to acquire blighted properties
Municipal redevelopment commissions are charged with addressing problem areas within the city or town. However, under current law they lack the flexibility to acquire blighted properties that might suddenly come up for sale (for example, after a fire or storm). Aim will pursue legislation that will allow commissions to act more nimbly in acquiring damaged or blighted properties so that they can be redeveloped and improved.
Making administrative fixes that will result in efficiencies and savings
In 2015, a local income tax reform bill called HEA 1485 was passed. In preparing for its January implementation, Aim has been identifying certain minor adjustments that need to be made in a “clean-up” bill. We’ll also support the effort to make adjustments to the legislation that passed in 2016 in SEA 317 that requires municipalities to scan and submit to the state copies of all contracts above a $50,000 threshold. In addition, Aim will work toward changing the Department of Local Government Finance’s current policy of denying levy appeals when funding operating balances are above 10%.
Our Policy Experts
Executive Director and CEO
317-237-6200 x 224
Deputy Director; Chief Federal and State Policy Officer
317-237-6200 x 225
Government Affairs Director
317-237-6200 x 227
Assistant Government Affairs Director; Legislative Counsel
317-237-6200 x 236
317-237-6200 x 222