February 12, 2021
The Big Issues
ORDINANCE VIOLATION FEES
- SB 158 would have reduced the maximum fees that can be charged for any ordinance violation by 90% (from a maximum of $2,500 to $250 for a first offense and from $7,500 to $750 for a second offense). It also would have prohibited local units from fining owners of residential apartment complexes on a per-unit basis, and instead requiring any fine to be applied only once per complex.
- Aim opposed this bill because it would have greatly reduced the enforcement teeth of ordinances designed to protect the public health, safety, and quality of life at apartment complexes, while also limiting the effectiveness of ordinance violations of all other types.
- SB 158, authored by Sen. Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) was amended in committee on Thursday to remove the harmful provisions described above. Thank you to everyone who reached out to the Senate Local Government committee members, as this made a big difference in the result. We will continue to monitor other bills for this language to potentially re-appear.
FEDERAL STIMULUS UPDATE
- The U.S. Congress is currently negotiating another COVID relief package. State and local government aid is currently contained in the package, providing federal emergency aid to every city, town, and village across the country with no minimum population requirement.
- $130 billion is set-aside for local governments, equally divided between municipalities and counties. The $65 billion for municipalities will be allocated according to a modified Community Development Block Grant formula.
- The House Oversight and Reform Committee will vote on these provisions by the end of the week, moving the discussion to the House Budget Committee where it will be combined with the larger emergency aid package discussions. Aim will continue monitoring this in consultation with the National League of Cities’ advocacy team.
REVALUATING MVH RESTRICTIONS
- SB 207 would require 40% (instead of 50% under current law) of Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) funds to be spent on construction, reconstruction, and preservation in 2022 and 2023. During that same period, snow removal activities (including salt and deicing) would be considered “preservation.”
- Increasing flexibility for the restricted portion of the MVH funds is a session priority for Aim, especially as communities experience reduced MVH distributions caused by pandemic restrictions and low gas prices. We appreciate the work of leadership in the Senate for this timely piece of legislation.
- SB 207, authored by Senator Blake Doriot (R-Syracuse), passed the Senate with a vote of 40-9 and will now go to the House.
- If a municipality is exercising eminent domain authority outside of their corporate boundaries (e.g. for a sewer project), HB 1527 would require the municipality to get approval from county commissioners in order to proceed. It would also add a new compensable category in for business losses for these takings at the property owner’s request, and adds other procedural hurdles that make these proceedings more costly and time intensive.
- Aim opposes this bill because it adds additional time, expense, and risk to eminent domain proceedings, which are sometimes necessary for important projects that benefit the public.
- A motion to table this bill after it was heard in committee narrowly failed 5-6. The bill, authored by Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville), ultimately passed the House Local Government Committee 7-4 on Thursday. We will continue our efforts to defeat this bill.
- Last session, the General Assembly passed SEA 148 which preempted the ability of local units to regulate many specific aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship (e.g. lease terms, the screening process, security deposits), along with a catchall phrase that preempted regulation of “any aspects” of the landlord-tenant relationship.
- Governor Holcomb vetoed this legislation citing concerns with that broad preemption language and due to concerns that it could lead to increased evictions during the early days of the pandemic.
- This week, the Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto 30-17, with the commitment to pass a trailer bill (SB 150) which would strike the catchall language prohibiting local units from regulating any aspect of the landlord-tenant relationship. Though this language is an improvement, Aim still opposes the broad preemption in the rest of the bill that significantly limits the ability of local units to address landlord-tenant issues in communities.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“The approach that we’ve tried to take the last few years has been very targeted, very surgical. We are pairing up municipal members – council members, clerk treasurers, managers, mayors – with individual members on a committee where we have a bill of importance. That happened at least three time this week. It’s been a real joy for us to see in action as it happened on House Bill 1114.”
– Aim CEO Matt Greller
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