April 16, 2021
The Big Issues
- The April revenue forecast for the state budget was released on Thursday, projecting significantly higher revenues – about $2B more over the biennium – than previously projected. This will be the focus of negotiations on the final budget as we head into the final days of session.
- The $36B currently includes a couple of notable provisions of interest to cities and towns:
o $150M for the Regional Economic Acceleration Development Initiative (READI) grant program, a program similar in concept to the Regional Cities Initiative.
o In addition to this regional funding source, the LIT rate for RDAs was increased from 0.05% to 0.5% to provide long-run funding for these initiatives.
o $250M for broadband deployment grants.
o $10M for body camera grants to be used for purchasing new camera equipment.
o $7M for law enforcement training grants.
o $100M in Water Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund buydowns and an additional $60M in water and infrastructure grants.
- Aim supports these additions to the budget and will continue to monitor the budget bill to ensure these helpful provisions stay in and harmful provisions stay out. It was heard in conference committee on Thursday afternoon following the revenue forecast and will be voted on next week.
- HB 1123 seeks to proscribe the powers of the governor and the General Assembly in states of emergency, seeking to give the General Assembly more involvement when an emergency continues for an extended period of time.
- House Bill 1123 would give the General Assembly a mechanism to call itself back into session to address a governor’s executive orders. It also requires legislative oversight, either through the appropriations process or the budget committee, of federal stimulus funding.
- HB 1123 passed both the House and the Senate, and was quickly vetoed by the governor. This week, both the House and Senate voted to override the governor’s veto with votes of 59-26 and 36-8, respectively. Future legal challenges are expected, as the Governor believes central parts of the bill are unconstitutional.
LINE OF DUTY DEATH BENEFITS
- SB 232 adds any variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), including COVID-19, to the list of exposure risk diseases in state law which triggers a line of duty death benefit to be paid to the family of fallen pubic safety officers. The bill’s effective date is retroactive to the start of the pandemic.
- Various changes have been made to this bill through the legislation process, but it appears the conference committee reached the final agreement on the bill this week.
- SB 232, authored by Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), will likely be voted on early next week in each chamber. It is expected to easily pass.
- SB 389 is a bill dealing with the regulation of Indiana’s wetlands. It passed the Senate as a bill that repealed Indiana’s wetlands laws in whole, but was amended significantly in the House.
- In the final version of the bill, SB 369 de-regulates Class I wetlands, those that are subsurface and do not have surface water or major hydrological function and certain small Class II wetlands. It also contains many other procedural changes for how the permitting process works. These changes will have potential impacts on the cost of development, stormwater controls, and environmental management that will vary from community to community.
- SB 389, authored by Sen. Chris Garten (R-Charlestown), passed its final votes this week, with a vote of 58-40 in the House, and 31-19 in the Senate. It will now go to the Governor for his consideration.
- In the first half of session, HB 1527 was a bill that would have required a municipality to get approval from county commissioners in order to use eminent domain authority outside the municipality’s corporate boundaries (e.g. for water or sewer easements). That bill would have also added a new compensable category for business losses for these takings at the property owner’s request and added other procedural hurdles. In summary, this language would make these proceedings more costly, complicated, and time intensive.
- HB 1527 did not move in the Senate, but it was added to SB 409 in the House. During the conference committee for SB 409 this week, Sen. Niemeyer communicated that the language is coming out.
- This is a positive development, but we will continue to monitor other bills for the possibility of this language being added to another unrelated bill during conference committee, as the language is still eligible to be added.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“COVID continues to affect daily lives. Regarding local government is the Governor’s Emergency Order and virtual meetings. We have been assured, once again, that when the Emergency Order does end, accommodations will be made for public notice requirements for your public meetings, hearings, etc. This is another positive example of the governor and the governor’s team working very hard, closely, and effectively with us on those kinds of matters.”
– Matt Greller, Aim CEO
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