The 2017 Legislative Session

Aim will take a longer-term, more collaborative approach to our legislative efforts than we have in the past. We want to work closely with legislators on key initiatives that will empower Indiana cities and towns to maximize quality of life for their citizens while attracting and retaining the world’s best companies and most talented workers.

Our priorities for 2017 focus on:

  • Nurturing Indiana communities by enhancing infrastructure, reasonable funding options, and healthy communities, and

  • Finding ways to make governance work better for the benefit of all Hoosiers.

Our 2017 Legislative Priorities

Building and nurturing quality places

These initiatives are broad-based and multi-faceted. We expect to work toward achieving these goals through the passage of legislation, policy changes, administrative directives, and education over a period of years.

Enhancing municipal infrastructure

Among the core services provided by cities and towns is the provision of basic transportation infrastructure systems including roads, streets, and public ways. We’ll work toward expanding dedicated long-term revenue sources available to municipalities in order to properly maintain these systems and meet the future needs of Indiana communities.

Modernizing the funding structure

Many cities and towns are challenged to provide 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 from community to community. We will examine the limitations and systematic problems with the historic methods of funding local government in Indiana, and then advocate for reforms through systematic advances.

Keeping Hoosiers healthy

Creating and supporting quality places is necessary for every community to flourish and grow. Such placemaking 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. We will partner with other key stakeholders to find innovative solutions to combat these serious problems.

Operational Initiatives

These initiatives should be embraced as common sense changes that will help local governments operate more efficiently and effectively.

Reducing federal regulatory burdens

Local governments receive more than $225 million annually from federal sources for road infrastructure projects. Unlike state or locally funded projects, federally funded projects must meet burdensome requirements throughout the planning and construction phases, causing added expense and delays. We will champion legislation that allows the state to exchange the federal money awarded to municipalities with state money. This exchange will free municipalities from federal mandates and allow them to complete projects quicker, cheaper, and easier.

Improving the timeliness of state revenue distributions

We believe that Indiana’s property assessment system needs additional resources. Due to the 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, preventing municipalities from receiving timely property tax revenue distributions. We will advocate for a study committee to examine the IBTR and Tax Court backlog and for the resources necessary to rectify the problem.

Enabling a more equitable distribution of court fees

In order to receive a share of court fees generated from ordinance and infraction violations, municipalities must prosecute at least 50% of these violations in the Superior Court or Circuit Court. When a violator is allowed to enter a deferral program, this does not qualify as a prosecution. We 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

Municipalities are required to publish notice in at least one qualified newspaper before hearings or decisions can be made on a variety of public matters. When a newspaper fails to publish a notice in a timely matter, however, the whole project may be delayed in order to comply with the publication statute. We 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

City and town redevelopment commissions are charged with addressing problem areas within the municipality. 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). We 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 passed called HEA 1485. In preparing for its January 1, 2017 implementation, we’ve been identifying certain minor adjustments that need to be made in a “clean-up” bill. We will also support the effort to make adjustments to the legislation that passed in 2016 in SEA 327 that requires municipalities to scan and submit to the state copies of all contracts above a $50,000 threshold. In addition, we 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

Matthew Greller
Executive Director & CEO
[email protected]
317-237-6200 x 224

Rhonda Cook
Deputy Director; Chief Federal and State Policy Officer
[email protected]
317-237-6200 x 225

Brian Gould
Government Affairs Director
[email protected]
317-237-6200 x 227

Lindsey Moss
Assistant Government Affairs Director; Legislative Counsel
[email protected]
317-237-6200 x 236

Jodie Woods
General Counsel
[email protected]
317-237-6200 x 222