February 26, 2021
The Big Issues
- The $36B biennial budget passed the House 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 Next Level Regional Recovery grant program, a program similar in concept to the Regional Cities Initiative.
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.
- 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, authored by Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), passed 65-30 sent to be sponsored by Sen. Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) in the Senate.
SPECIAL USES AND PLANNING COMMISSIONS
- HB 1337 would grant the authority to authorize special uses to legislative bodies (instead of BZAs) in counties with an area plan commission. An amendment was added in committee that prevents Advisory Plan Commissions from prohibiting agricultural uses or timbering in the two-mile fringe outside corporate boundaries.
- Aim opposes HB 1337 because it will lead to increased land use conflicts, and we do not believe it is appropriate to preempt plan commissions from regulating activities like timbering and agricultural uses in areas right outside corporate boundaries that are within the plan commission’s jurisdiction.
- HB 1337, authored by Rep. Matt Hostettler (R-Patoka), passed the House 60-34. Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) will serve as the Senate sponsor.
- 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 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.
- HB 1527, authored by Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville), passed the House 62-34 and will be sponsored by Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Middlebury) in the Senate.
- HB 1164 is 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. Some of the provisions include a 21-28 day shot clock to approve permit applications, new language that limits the amount of liability insurance that can be required, and other language intended to streamline the application process like requiring units to accept and process applications electronically.
- 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, 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 even less ability to negotiate locations of new poles with providers.
- HB 1164, authored by Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Logansport), passed the House 54-39. It is sponsored by Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) in the Senate, and has been assigned to the Senate Utilities Committee.
POLICE AND FIRE RESIDENCY
- HB 1033 removes the existing residency requirements for city police officers, who under current law must reside within 50 miles of the city in which they work. This does not impact the current ability of cities with a population of less than 7,500 from adopting an ordinance with stricter residency requirements, and does not apply to towns.
- Aim supports the additional hiring flexibility for departments that are having a hard time recruiting new police officers or firefighters. However, we also would prefer that communities have the option to enact residency requirements if local circumstances warrant. We will continue to work with stakeholders in an effort to improve the language.
- HB 1033, authored by Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), passed the House 78-16, and is already scheduled to be heard next week in the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee. Sen. Jack Sandlin (R-Indianapolis) is the Senate sponsor.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“I continue to be surprised at the number of bills this session, it’s very similar to a regular long session, not one in the middle of a pandemic. I don’t think a lot of people were expecting it. One thing to really key on for our members in the second half of session is grassroots because we are so distant and it’s so hard to get face time with legislators and the normal contact we would have. We’re relying on the membership even more than we have in previous sessions.”
– Matt Greller, Aim CEO
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