The last week of the legislative session is upon us.  While many important issues remain undecided, the list of remaining bills shrinks greatly each day. To date, Governor Holcomb has signed more than 50 bills into law!

In addition to road funding, annexation waivers, small cell towers and short-term rentals (Airbnb) are among the large issues remaining for cities and towns. Read more below and please monitor your inbox in the coming days for timely information and requests for your assistance.

Road Funding

  • HB 1002 was heard in conference committee on Monday afternoon.  Aim Legislative Chairman and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness testified to the committee, showing Aim fully supports the funding levels in the House plan.
  • Intense negotiations are underway between House and Senate leadership.  Funding levels for local road and streets was the primary difference between the House and Senate plans.
  • Legislators are seeing and hearing support from city and town officials to accurately fund the long term infrastructure needs of locals.  The most influential way to do this is public support from local officials on social media and letters to the editor.
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Small Cell Tower Regulation

  • SB 213 left the House of Representatives as an interim study committee.  However, we believe the bill’s author and conference committee chairman, Senator Hershman, is working to return the bill to a similar version that passed the Senate.
  • The telecom providers are negotiating language to address the placement of small cell towers in neighborhoods where utilities have intentionally been placed underground.  The providers are still not willing to insert aesthetic standards in the bill.
  • The modified bill will likely address some concerns raised about height and location but this will still leave property owners in the dark about structures being installed in close proximity to their homes or business.  Local officials should remain engaged with their legislators and educate them on how this bill would impact the community.
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Short Term Rentals

  • In the second half of session, language was added but then removed from a bill that would have voided annexation remonstrance waivers signed after 1995.
  • Although this language was removed from HB 1450, Aim is hearing that similar language may be coming back in another bill.
  • We believe many municipalities would have made different decisions at the time they extended services in exchange for a remonstrance waiver had they known those agreements would be declared void by the General Assembly in future years.  We encourage you to contact your legislators and ask them to oppose any negative annexation language.
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Gaming Revenues to Local Units

  • Three major gaming provisions are being modified in this bill, two of which will have negative impacts on gaming and nongaming communities.
  • HB 1350 will immediately reduce gaming revenues for most riverboat communities as well as reduce revenues to non-riverboat communities under reforms to the hold-harmless distribution formula starting in 2022.
  • The cumulative impact to riverboat communities is a reduction of $480,000 in 2019 followed by a projected $1.8 million loss in 2020 and 2021.  Legislators are still debating the bill and the primary concern appears to be on the impact to local units of government.
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Annexation Waivers

  • In the second half of session, language was added but then removed from a bill that would have voided annexation remonstrance waivers signed after 1995.
  • Although this language was removed from HB 1450, Aim is hearing that similar language may be coming back in another bill.
  • We believe many municipalities would have made different decisions at the time they extended services in exchange for a remonstrance waiver had they known those agreements would be declared void by the General Assembly in future years.  We encourage you to contact your legislators and ask them to oppose any negative annexation language.
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Support for Local Needs at Center of Negotiations

HB 1002 Transportation Infrastructure (Soliday, R-Valparaiso; Brown, R-Crawfordsville; Steurewald, R-Avon; Sullivan, R-Evansville)

The conference committee for HB 1002 held their first meeting Monday and legislators heard approximately 2 hours of testimony, primarily in support of the House plan.  The House introduced road funding plan was drafted to fully fund local needs of $775 million per year identified by a recently released Purdue report.  After the Senate drastically cut revenue directed to local roads and streets there were concerns raised by rural legislators who believed the bill no longer addressed all of our statewide needs.  While there may be some disagreement about the local need, Aim has aggressively lobbied the Senate this week utilizing data from the Purdue report showing the Senate funding plan would merely “maintain current road conditions.”

Closed door meetings with key legislators have continued all week and we believe the negotiations are moving back toward the original House version of the bill.  There appears to be growing support for funding the local need, so now the question is where do the funds come from.  Some items considered off the table a week ago, like shifting the sales tax on gas and the cigarette tax, appear to be back on the table.  The Senate is also making a hard push to implement tolling as soon as possible, which conflicts with the House plan to continue to study the option.

We are also working on the nitty gritty details for locals, such as Community Crossings match percentages, MVH uses, and diversifying revenue streams for a dependable long term funding source.

The road funding bill will likely be one of the last bills to pass the General Assembly, second only to the budget bill.  We need our members to help keep the pressure on their legislators to ensure the final plan not only meets state needs but local needs as well.

Local officials from all across the state are showing public support for the House plan through social media and letters to the editor in local newspapers.  This support is clearly facilitating our efforts as legislators are indicating a shift back towards the funding levels presented in the original version of HB 1002.

Aim Position: Support


Conference Committee Looks to Resurrect Bill

SB 213 Support Structures for Wireless Facilities (Hershman, R-Buck Creek)

SB 213 was presented in conference committee on Wednesday with restricted participation from committee members.  Legislators and stakeholders were given one hours’ notice of the conference committee, which is complexing on such a major legislative policy shift.  The conference committee chairman, Senator Brandt Hershman, also limited questions from only the conferees, not allowing the legislators serving as advisors to ask questions.  This was frustrating to both Republican and Democrat Representatives who still have many concerns about the bills potential consequences.

Aim testified on the bill and was asked several in depth questions by the conferees.  The primary concerns still focus on height restrictions, aesthetic standards, location restrictions and notification to property owners.  Legislators also want to ensure local units of government are not placing burdensome requirements on providers, which will delay the deployment of this new technology.

We anticipate the conference committee report will be released early next week, giving the providers a few days to lobby for votes in the House.  We also anticipate that the bill will be returned to a version with many of the original Senate preemptions of local governments.  Aim will continue to address our concerns on the preemptions and the impact of this legislation on residential property owners, historic districts and downtown areas.  Giving communication service provider’s unfettered access to right of ways may speed up the process for deploying wireless technology but it creates a very concerning statewide policy with no system to notify a property owners or a process to address their concerns when a structure has been installed.

Aim Position: Support Interim Study Committee


Legislation to Restrict Local Control over Short Term Rentals Still Alive

HB 1133 Preemption of Local Bans on Short Term Rentals (Lehman, R-Berne)

HB 1133 addresses the practice of home-sharing in Indiana through online platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, etc.  In addition to pre-empting locals’ ability to ban short term renting, it also establishes a statewide framework that significantly restricts the ability of local governments to respond to this practice through planning and zoning.

When Airbnb operators are renting out homes to a different set of renters every few days, that’s not just a home anymore, it’s an unregulated hotel.  When homebuyers purchase homes in areas zoned for residential use only, they expect that their local government has the ability to enforce that use.  But under this legislation, local governments have no ability to enforce customary residential zoning uses in neighborhoods.

Throughout the session, Aim has actively lobbied for amendments that would provide a better balance for local governments, but none have been accepted. The bill passed the Senate and the House on very narrow margins, and there was a conference committee hearing on the bill this week.  However, the author of the bill indicated during that hearing that he may withdraw his motion to dissent and instead file a motion to concur.  This means that the House will vote on a concurrence to the changes that were made in the Senate instead of a conference committee report which would be voted on by both Houses.  If a concurrence motion is filed, the bill could be voted on by the full House again early next week.

Zoning is an inherently local function and it is critical for local governments to retain the ability to respond to what their constituents expect and demand.  Please contact your House representatives and ask them to vote no on HB 1133.

Aim Position: Oppose 


Gaming Bill Will Have Statewide Impacts

HB 1350 Gaming (Huston, R-Fishers)

HB 1350 was heard in conference committee this week and Chairman Huston allowed interested stakeholders to testify on the bill.  Committee members are primarily from gaming communities and their concerns are focused around the impacts to existing deals that were agreed to in order to establish gaming in Indiana.

There are three primary aspects to this bill.  The first modifies the admissions tax collection process to a percentage of the adjusted gross revenue of the casino, rather than collecting it by the current system of fees per visitor.  This is primarily due to recent legislation that allowed riverboats to move on land.  This is seen as a necessary change to promote additional investments in those facilities, such as shops and restaurants.

The second portion is a 10 year elimination of the wagering tax addback.  Gaming entities are supportive of the bill because this provision will decrease their tax liability to the state, which they argue will make them more competitive with gaming entities outside of Indiana and help spur investments in existing facilities as they move operations inland.

The third section of the bill impacts the hold harmless distribution from the state to gaming and non-gaming communities.  The fiscal impact of this is unknown but gaming revenues have continued to decrease in Indiana for many years, including a decrease in this week’s fiscal forecast.  The result will be a decrease in gaming revenue distributions to all communities.

Chairman Huston, who authored the bill, thanked all interested parties for an open and honest discussion on the issue and agreed to continue the conversation.  This bill may be impacted by several other large bills including the road funding bill and the budget bill.

Aim Position: Concerns About Revenue Loss


Language that Impacts Annexation Remonstrance Waivers Likely Coming Back

Thank you to everyone who contacted your legislators two weeks ago regarding the annexation language that was added to HB 1450 that would have retroactively voided remonstrance waivers.  This language was removed on second reading.  However, we are hearing indications that similar language is going to come back in another bill.

Annexation is a planning tool that is key to future growth, and retroactively voiding waiver agreements disrupts decisions that were made in reliance on Indiana’s annexation laws.  This is a significant policy shift and Aim will continue talking with legislators to explain why this language is harmful to municipalities.

We also encourage you to reach out to your legislators as soon as possible if this impacts your community.  We will update you as we know more.

Aim Position: Oppose


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