The Big Issues
- Crawfordsville Senator Phil Boots’ anti-annexation bill, SB 94, includes several damaging provisions aimed at curbing what little annexation authority remains. Voiding annexation waivers, and adding some significantly onerous petition language requiring signatures from no less than 51% of property owners in the annexed territory or owners representing 75% of the AV not exempt from property taxes, are among the bill’s extreme provisions.
- The bill was modestly amended on 2nd reading this week. Aim is urging you to continue calling your lawmakers and expressing significant concerns.
- Several other anti-annexation bills, or language regarding annexation, have been introduced this session. Aim is monitoring SB 556, HB 1389, HB 1403, and HB 1427.
- One annexation bill that Aim supports is HB 1359. Rep Mahan agreed to author the bill which, among several other provisions, changes the “one bite at the apple” loophole that does not allow the boundary of newly annexed territory to satisfy the contiguity requirements for future annexations unless it is voluntary.
- Rep. Tony Cook of Cicero has a bill, HB 1166, forcing local redevelopment commissions to convert their current school board member from a non-voting to a voting member. The bill was heard earlier this session in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee without a vote being taken.
- Sen. Victoria Spartz also has a bill, SB 549, converting school RDC positions from non-voting to voting positions. However, her bill is broader and does attempt to provide more transparency regarding the school district finances.
- Redevelopment Commissions are an economic development arm of independently elected bodies who are held accountable to their constituents for their performance. It is inconceivable that a member of the school board will be viewed as accountable by municipal constituents for the RDC’s economic development decisions. These bills also fail to recognize that decision making at the school district level can also have an impact on the district’s other taxing units, yet there aren’t any board appointments or current reporting requirements to assist regarding the same.
- Rep. Ed Clere has a bill that places extremely onerous requirements on cities and towns regarding the preparation and updating of housing studies.
- The bill requires a community to prepare an analysis, and potential study, if a unit’s proposed regulation may increase or decrease the cost of housing in the county or municipality. Further, it requires a municipality to annually prepare: (1) a housing affordability report; and (2) a housing fee report. It requires the municipality to post the reports on the municipality’s web site and provides that a municipality may not impose any housing related fee that is not: (1) included in the fee report; or (2) posted on the municipality’s web site.
- HB 1625 cleared the House Government and Regulator Reform committee 11-0, after a very lengthy debate. More information regarding the bill’s fiscal impact can be found here.
- SB 535, authored by Sen. Boots, was heard in the Senate Local Government Committee this week and is scheduled for another hearing on February 7.
- The bill eliminates nearly all municipal extraterritorial jurisdiction rights to regulate or exercise authority within the 2 mile “buffer” zone around a city or town’s corporate boundary.
- If this bill moves forward, municipal planning and zoning, public health and safety, operation of parks or acquiring park land through eminent domain, water course regulation, and many other vital municipal government functions that often take place in this fringe territory, could be prohibited. Some county officials testified in opposition to the bill by highlighting areas where maintaining municipal buffer zone rights would be advantageous for all involved.
- Aim’s government efficiency bill, authored by Rep. Mike Karickhoff of Kokomo, moved swiftly through the committee process and cleared the House unanimously. The bill is headed to the Senate where Sen. Ruckelshaus will lead the charge.
- HB 1116 contains many different measures that will make operating city and town government easier and more efficient for municipal officials and taxpayers. The bill was amended in committee to clarify that in addition to the purchase of property, selling and leasing property can also be discussed in executive session of the council.
- In addition to the language regarding executive sessions, there are provisions to remove partisan affiliation requirements on local boards and commissions, eliminate residency requirements for city attorneys, allow locals to use electronic bidding processes, allow more flexibility in determining note repayment dates, and allow fiscal officer to appropriate funds received for damaged property.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“Two Aim bills passed out of the House this week, so that’s good to keep those moving. And our annexation bill that we introduced this session, going on the offensive on some annexation issues will likely come up this week in committee and serve as the annexation vehicle for the House.”
– Brian Gould, Aim Government Affairs Director
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