April 9, 2021

The Big Issues


  • The $36B biennial budget was presented by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday containing funding for all of the state’s operations. Included in the bill are 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.
  • The budget, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen), passed committee 11-2 and will now move to the floor of the Senate.


  • HB 1437 allows governing bodies to adopt a local policy to use virtual meetings. The bills each have some state-set guardrails in place that must be met (e.g., limiting the number of meetings that any one member can attend virtually each year unless there are extenuating circumstances and requiring at least 50% of the members to be in person). A local policy can be more strict than the state law, but not less strict. Included in this bill is list of seven types of actions that cannot be voted on virtually, which we would like to see removed from the language in future years.
  • Creating a framework for virtual meetings was an Aim operational initiative this year and we worked closely with the bill author and sponsor to get this language across the finish line. This bill represents a great step in modernizing the operations of local government.
  • HB 1437, authored by Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) and sponsored by Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), passed the House this week in its final vote with a tally of 81-6. It will now go to the governor for his signature.


  • When HB 1164 was introduced, it was a bill containing a variety of telecom-related provisions, many of which impact the ability of local units to manage access to and work performed within rights of way and process applications for utility and telecommunications providers. These provisions, through ongoing negotiations, have been removed from the bill.
  • HB 1164 also contains new limitations on the applicability of any local waiver process for small cell applications in residential areas that were designated as buried utility areas prior to May 1, 2017. If there is any aboveground infrastructure in these areas other than light poles and approved small cell towers, new small cell applications would not be subject to a local waiver or zoning process and would be considered a permitted use as it is in non-residential areas under current law. This leaves property owners and local units with less ability to negotiate locations of new poles with providers, but is a significant improvement over the introduced version.
  • HB 1164, authored by Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Logansport), passed the Senate Utilities Committee 7-3 on Thursday and will now move to the full Senate for a vote.


  • SB 5 would provide an appeals process to the county or city legislative bodies if citizens believe an enforcement action taken by a county or city health department was inappropriate. It also requires that local emergency restrictions that are more stringent than the state restrictions would have to be approved by the local legislative body.
  • SB 263 would require that churches be restricted no more stringently than other essential services in the jurisdiction when exercising emergency powers and that the act of worship not be regulated at all by local governments.
  • SB 5, authored by Sen. Chris Garten, passed the House with a vote of 65-28 and will now go to a conference committee for additional changes. SB 263, authored by Sen. Eric Koch, passed the Senate for a final vote of 36-10 and will now move to the governor for his signature.


  • HB 1191 would prevent local units from proscribing design standards on construction in their jurisdiction that requires certain materials to be used for the purposes of energy savings. This is similar in concept to the much broader HB 1114 which would have preempted the regulation of all design elements on residential structures.
  • Although written more narrowly, HB 1191 calls into question the ability of communities to enforce certain design/material regulations that have an energy-savings component. This bill also prevents local units from regulating energy sources in new construction, targeted at a national movement to ban natural gas in new buildings.
  • HB 1191, authored by Representative Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie), passed the Senate Utilities Committee on Thursday with a vote of 7-3.


“[Conference committees] are weird process for a lot of folks. We have four conferees per bill. There is one meeting that is public and then they go in recess where we often talk about negotiations that go on behind closed doors. It is important, so if we reach out to you and ask to contact your legislator over the next couple of weeks, it probably means that they are negotiating on the final pieces of a bill. So, keep you a look out on your emails and text messages.”

– Matt Greller, Aim CEO

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