This is the time during each legislative session when drinking from a firehose actually sounds oddly refreshing. Our team is spending hours testifying, chasing down legislators, and working to make legislation the best it can be for cities and towns. Our new approach of trying to be more collaborative and supportive of non-traditional issues is helping the Aim team think more broadly and create more partnerships. We look forward to seeing what the results will be for Indiana’s municipalities! Take a few minutes to read this week’s highlights and summaries of bills that need your attention.
- We believe HB 1002 will be heard in the Ways and Means committee soon and we anticipate the goal is to move the bill along to full House of Representatives as quickly as possible.
- Legislative leadership continues to support the local infrastructure need that has been confirmed by Purdue University. The Purdue University report identifies the local need is approximately $1 billion dollars annually to maintain and preserve our existing local roadway infrastructure.
- Aim continues to encourage our local officials to engage your legislators in supporting a long term road funding plan. There are many funding options being discussed and legislators are looking to develop a comprehensive plan that utilizes as many options as possible. Write a Letter to the Editor to your local paper to help remind them that their constituents want local roads and streets improved as well as state highways and interstates!
Short Term Rentals
- HB 1133 is the “Airbnb bill” that sets a statewide framework of regulation for short term rentals in Indiana. Unfortunately, it greatly restricts local control, especially with regard to zoning.
- In its current form, a homeowner could rent their home out to a non-resident for half the year and still be considered a “short term rental” that is not subject to any of the same regulations as hotels or even bed and breakfast establishments, and municipalities would have very limited ability to regulate the practice locally.
- A 2nd reading amendment that would have made the bill much better failed by only one vote. The 3rd reading vote will likely be very close, so please contact your legislator right away to ask them to vote NO on HB 1133.
- SB 381 allows the county commissioners to stop an annexation from taking place.
- County commissioners are permitted to consider the annexation and approve or deny it. If they do not act within 90 days, the annexation is considered approved.
- Aim opposes this legislation which would place the decision of whether a city or town could grow though annexation in the hands of the county executive.
Redevelopment Commission Membership
- HB 1131 restructures the appointment authority to RDCs by taking away one of the municipal executive’s appointments to give it instead to the school board. Under this framework, the executive and the legislative body have two appointments each, and the school board has one.
- This bill was heard in committee, where Aim expressed our opposition. The bill has not come back for a vote yet, but Aim continues to talk to stakeholders to explain why the municipal executive needs to retain the controlling number of appointments.
- Aim will continue to advocate on behalf of continuing the current membership of our RDCs while looking for ways to address the concerns of those who support this bill.
Small Cell Tower Regulation
- SB 213 will restrict local control and permitting of telecommunication projects to be collocated or maintained on existing wireless structures or on publicly owned utility poles, traffic signals or signage structures.
- In addition to restricting local permitting, SB 213 also regulates the fees that a local unit may charge for the utilization of utility poles by telecom providers. This may impact existing contracts and rate structures that local units are currently operating under.
- A working group is being formed to address all stakeholder concerns with the bill and to clarify the intent of the legislation. We believe there is compromise to be made in this bill.
Road Funding Bill Up for Fiscal Review
HB 1002 Transportation Infrastructure Funding (Soliday, R-Valparaiso; T. Brown, R-Crawfordsville; Steurewald, R-Avon; Sullivan, R-Evansville)
HB 1002 is moving forward. The bill will be presented to the House Ways and Means committee in the near future. The committee already heard six hours of testimony during a joint hearing with the Roads and Transportation committee so it is likely they will not take additional testimony unless there are amendments offered on the bill. Aim will be prepared to provide additional support for the long term road funding package if the opportunity is presented to speak on the bill. Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown typically holds a bill after hearing it in case there are concerns that need to be amended before the bill leaves committee. If there are no amendments to the bill, we do believe it is possible the committee may vote on HB 1002 to move it along to the full House of Representatives.
Legislators continue educating the public on why a long term plan with revenue raising mechanisms is critically needed for the Hoosier state. There are many ways to support your legislator through letters to the press or using social media to demonstrate your local need for increased funding. If you need any assistance with how to use social media to support lawmakers on these efforts please contact [email protected].
Aim has formed a true partnership with legislators on this issue and we have received positive responses from legislative leadership who continue to support the additional need for local infrastructure funding. During his weekly press event, House Speaker Brian Bosma noted that while they have been discussing the state need is $1.2B annually, they have not forgotten the local need is an additional $800M just to preserve and maintain our local roadways.
While the Senate and House agree a long term funding plan for state and locals of $2B annually is needed, they differ on what may be the best approach to find the revenue. The discussion on the best strategy will continue throughout session as legislators debate tolling, bonding, gas tax increases and additional user fees. The essential point is that we identify all options on the table and decide on a stable, long term approach to address both state and local needs.
Aim Position: Support
Legislation to Restrict Local Control over Short Term Rentals
HB 1133 Preemption of Local Bans on Short Term Rentals (Lehman, R-Berne)
HB 1133 addresses the practice of home-sharing in Indiana through online platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, etc. In addition to pre-empting locals’ ability to ban the practice, it also restricts how locals can regulate them through the use of zoning.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jerry Torr called down a 2nd reading amendment that Aim requested which would have exempted areas zoned for residential use only from the restrictions in HB 1133. Although the bill is still pre-emptive in nature, this amendment would have made HB 1133 a much better bill by ensuring that locals would retain the ability to zone to protect the property rights of homeowners in residential neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the amendment failed on the floor by one vote.
Rep. Matt Lehman, the author of the bill, could call the bill down for the 3rd reading vote as early as Monday. Given the closeness of the 2nd reading amendment vote, this will likely come down to just a few votes on 3rd reading. Please contact your state representative as soon as possible to ask them to vote no on this legislation that unreasonably restricts local control.
Aim Position: Oppose
Annexation Bill to be Heard Next Week
SB 381 Annexation (Buck, R-Kokomo)
This bill allows the county commissioners to stop an annexation from taking place. For an annexation ordinance adopted by a city or town after June 30, 2017, the county commissioners are permitted to request to approve or deny the annexation. If the commissioners deny the annexation, the annexation proceedings are terminated. If the county commissioners do not approve the annexation or deny the annexation within 90 days, the annexation is considered approved. The bill also adds requirements to what must be included in the annexation fiscal plan.
Committee Considering Bill to Change Membership of RDCs
HB 1131 Appointments to Local Boards and Commissions (Clere, R-New Albany; Cook, R-Cicero)
Last week, the House Government and Regulatory Reform committee heard HB 1131 that would remove one of the municipal executive’s appointments to a Redevelopment Commission in order to give that appointment to a school board member. Under this framework, the municipal executive and the legislative body would each have two appointments, with the fifth member being appointed by the school board.
RDCs were designed to give city and town leaders a strong economic development tool. Replacing one of the chief executive’s appointments with a school board member undermines the chief’s ability to direct economic development projects that need RDC approval. Giving the school board – a separate taxing unit – appointment authority to municipal RDCs is a fundamental and inappropriate shift in how RDCs operate.
The Chairman of the committee held the bill to give Aim and other stakeholders the opportunity to continue discussions. Many proponents of HB 1131 claim that TIFs have severe negative impacts on school funding, so much of Aim’s efforts have been to share data and information that tells a different story. Schools are an important partner in economic development successes in communities and we agree that there should be good communication between schools and RDCs, but HB 1131 as it stands today is not the right way to ensure that this communication does occur.
HB 1131 could be back for a committee vote the week of February 13, so please start the dialogue with your legislators to explain why the current framework that gives the chief executive the controlling appointments to the RDC is the proper balance.
Aim Position: Oppose
Small Cell Towers are a Big Deal to General Assembly
SB 213 Support Structures for Wireless Facilities (Hershman, R-Buck Creek)
SB 213 includes several modifications to current statute due to the increasing demand for broadband coverage and the expansion of 5G service in Indiana. The premise of the bill is to include municipally owned utility poles, traffic signals and signage as an option for service providers to collocate telecommunication equipment. The bill also increases the allowable size of the antenna from three cubic feet to six cubic feet and the enclosed equipment facility volume increases from 17 cubic feet to 28 cubic feet. The second part of the bill prevents local units from requiring a permit when the service provider is going to conduct routine maintenance or replacing equipment that is similar in size. We oppose restricting local oversight of work to be completed in a public right of way and constituents deserve to know when work will be conducted in their neighborhoods.
The final measure of the bill limits the fees a local unit may charge for any permits to be required for installation of the collocated equipment at $100 for the first five permits and $50 for any additional permits. This section also creates a maximum fee of $20 per year for each utility pole to be utilized by the service provider that would be paid to the local utility.
Aim will continue to address our concerns on preempting local control and restricting local oversight of work to be completed in public right of ways.
Aim Position: Oppose