The Big Issues
LOCAL GOVERNMENT MATTERS
- HB 1427 was one of those bills that became a magnet for language in the final days of session, making it one of the last bills finalized before the legislature adjourned sine die on April 24.
- Upon final passage the bill contained many provisions of importance to municipal government. Among them are a requirement for clerks and fiscal officers to complete a prescribed amount of training each year, the extension of time to finalize a city’s budget in the case of a mayoral veto after October 1st, the voiding of annexation waivers older than 15 years old, a 15 year shot clock on annexation waivers signed before 2015, and more.
- Matters submitted for further study in HB 1427 include giving municipalities the ability to pay deposits on equipment and services, and changing requirements regarding pension plan contribution methods.
PROPERTY UTILITY BILLING
- HB 1347, a Rep. Woody Burton bill, originally sought to eliminate a municipal utility’s ability to pursue unpaid bills from rental property owners, require burdensome notification prior to filing a sewer lien and allow the Attorney General’s office to serve as a mediator for customer complaints.
- Aim opposed this bill as it takes away local decision making authority and forces other property taxpayers to assume the burden for landlords who do not want to be responsible for their property.
- Aim was assured by lawmakers that the bill does not preclude Aim from pursuing payment from property owners for their unpaid sewer utility bills. The utility must, however, make the property owner part of the service contract. The language impacting sewer liens and the Attorney General’s office was removed from the bill before it passed. More information is forthcoming – watch for the Aim Statehouse Report or register for the Aim Legislative Wrap Up webinar on May 14th for more information.
- The legislature passed a sweeping gaming reform in HB 1015. Not only does the bill, authored by Rep. Todd Huston , take one of Gary’s casino licenses and move it further inland to a more accessible location, it takes the second license and relocates it to Vigo County, a community currently without casino gaming.
- Additional provisions in the bill include moving up the timeline for live table games at Indiana’s horse tracks and capping the number of casino and racino licenses that can be held by one operator at six, rather than two. And, the bill legalizes sports wagering in casinos and on mobile devices.
- The bill also includes language that reimburses communities that are expected to see decreases in gaming revenue as a result of the changes in casino licenses. This “hold harmless” provision will apply to East Chicago, Hammond, Michigan City, French Lick and Evansville.
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.
- While the bill does offer an additional tool for locals, it requires redevelopment commissions to obtain DLGF approval for each new district and most concerning, requires every affected school corporation to give approval for any residential TIF program.
- Thank you to those members who called their representatives during the session and thwarted an amendment to this bill that would have eliminated a municipality’s ability to regulate nearly all architectural standards for new residential structures.
TAX COURT JURISDICTION/ STORMWATER FEES
- In December a tax court decision ruling that 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 worked closely with lawmakers all session to communicate the far-reaching consequences of this decision. While some lawmakers were hesitant to overturn judicial decisions on principle, failing to set aside this decision and clarify the tax court’s jurisdiction in these matters was necessary to avoid catastrophic consequences. As passed, the bill clarifies that storm water user fees and other similar user fees in statute are not taxes, and provides that only the local courts (not the Tax Court) have jurisdiction over challenges user fees.
- Aim is grateful to Rep. Karikhoff and Sen. Charonneau for their steadfast assistance and leadership.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“We set the stage, we had [Investment Hubs] language in a bill. It’s now moved into a summer study committee, which is about as best as we could hope for. As you know, things move slowly in the Legislature and in Indiana in general, so this is a multi-year effort and we’re excited to get at it again in the off-season this year, take it on the road again, and begin that grassroots work to try to build support for the Hubs proposal.”
– Aim CEO Matt Greller
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