The Big Issues
- When IACT became Aim one of our goals was to take a longer-term view and pursue aggressive legislative changes that would foster innovation and incentivize greater collaboration among municipalities. The Investment Hubs proposal is one of our first big steps towards giving Hoosier communities the chance to excel among our national peers and advance our position in the race to attract talent.
- Investment Hubs are formed by neighboring cities, towns and counties who create a regional governance body and commit to implementing a local income tax or food and beverage tax for the purpose of funding capital projects within the Hub. Each member city, town or county must contribute half of the revenue raised to the regional pot to fund transformational capital projects. Members will keep the other half in their general funds for any authorized governmental purpose. Read this one-pager for more information on Investment Hubs.
- Led by Rep. Todd Huston, the Investment Hubs language was amended into HB 565 in the House Ways & Means Committee. The bill cleared the House 58-30 on Thursday, April 12. We continue to thank Rep. Huston for his leadership on this critical bill and look forward to continuing the discussion during conference committees.
HOUSING TIF/ ARCHITECTURAL STANDARDS
- SB 566 permits a redevelopment commission to establish a tax increment financing program for residential housing. The bill was authored by Sen. Jeff Raatz and is being sponsored by Rep. Jim Pressel.
- A successful amendment in the House Ways and Means Committee and another amendment by Cherrish Pryor on the House floor establishes guardrails for communities pursuing this option. As amended, the bill requires redevelopment commissions to seek a DLGF circuit breaker impact analysis and school board approval prior to proceeding with a residential TIF program.
- Early next week, the bill will be on third reading in the House. The author is expected to dissent, sending the bill to conference committee. Thank you to those members who called their representatives in an effort to stop an amendment to this bill that eliminated a municipality’s ability to regulate nearly all architectural standards for new residential structures. The amendment was not offered and therefore died.
WATER AND SEWER ROW
- SB 193, authored by Sen. Bohacek of LaPorte and sponsored by Rep. Jim Pressel, changes local decision making authority relative to water and sewer connections in the public right of way.
- Initially the bill allowed a property owner with a failing septic system to access the public right of way to connect to another units’ water or sewer utility, and allows the unit that owns and operates the system being connected to waive the remonstrance waiver mandate for connecting. The bill now requires the property owner to have a permit and approval of the connecting utility.
- On Thursday Sen. Pressel filed multiple amendments. The amendment that passed returned the bill to a form that will be easier to work with during the conference committee process should the bill advance. Many thanks to Aim members who reached out to their Representatives to vote against more harmful language.
TAX COURT JURISDICTION/ STORMWATER FEES
- In December a tax court decision saying stormwater fees are considered taxes resulted in swift legislative follow up in the form of SB 582, authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau and sponsored by Rep. Mike Karickhoff.
- Aim has been communicating with lawmakers that this decision has such far-reaching consequences that it must be overturned. While some lawmakers are hesitant to overturn judicial decisions on principle, failing to set aside this decision and clarify the tax court’s jurisdiction in these matters is necessary to avoid catastrophic consequences.
- SB 582, which cleared the House 82-7, clarifies the definition of user fee and makes clear jurisdiction over claims concerning user fees lies with the circuit courts, standard superior courts, and superior courts. The Senate author is expected to concur.
- Aim’s government efficiency bill, authored by Rep. Mike Karickhoff of Kokomo, and sponsored by Sen. John Ruckelshaus, continues to move through the legislative process.
- HB 1116 is Aim’s annual legislative effort to find efficiencies and eliminate red tape. The bill clarifies that in addition to the purchase of property and leasing property, selling property may also be discussed in executive session of the council. Further, there are provisions to allow locals to use electronic bidding processes, allow more flexibility in determining note repayment dates, and allow fiscal officers to appropriate funds received for damaged property.
- Earlier this week, unfortunately the bill was amended to remove partisan affiliation requirements on local boards of aviation and eliminate residency requirements for city attorneys in small cities. Rep. Karickhoff is expected to concur, meaning the bill will not go to conference committee.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“Normally Aim doesn’t have a lot to worry about in the budget bill but we’re hearing some rumbling of something pretty serious. The Senate version of the budget came out this week and comes about $100 million short of what the Governor wanted with the Department of Child Services funding Some folks in the Senate made comments, some posture if you will, that the Governor should take that money out of a special transportation fund that was setup when the gas taxed was increased a couple of years ago. This is not where we would like to see this money come from.”
– Aim CEO Matt Greller
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