February 5, 2021
The Big Issues
- HB 1164 is a bill containing a variety of telecom-related provisions, including further limitations on buried utility ordinances, cell tower height ordinances, and cell tower spacing ordinances. In addition, HB 1164 would increase the ability of telecommunications providers to access rights-of-way, limit permitting and review for the access, and cap fees that local governments can charge for access and maintenance.
- Aim opposes HB 1164 because it reduces the ability of local governments to regulate rights-of-way, review and permit telecommunications infrastructure, and ensure that neighborhood ordinances on small cell poles are enforceable.
- HB 1164 was heard this week in the House Utilities Committee where an amendment to improve the bill was proposed but not voted on. It will come back for further amendment and vote at a future meeting. Aim continues to work with Rep. Manning (R-Logansport) to improve the bill.
RESIDENTIAL DESIGN STANDARDS
- HB 1114 would prevent local ordinances from regulating building materials or aesthetics of residential structures, with limited exceptions e.g. existing historical preservation or architectural districts.
- Aim opposes this bill because it would ultimately result in local units having no ability to enforce aesthetic methods, instead allowing developers to build without adhering to any locally-set requirements that were adopted with constituent input. Local communities should have the ability to ensure all new housing development meets structural and aesthetic standards that protect property values and make people want to live in those neighborhoods.
- HB 1114, authored by Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart) passed the House Local Government Committee 8-5 on Thursday. It is eligible to be voted on as early as Monday.
- HB 1116 defines PVC piping as an acceptable material for public works projects and would prohibit requests for bids from specifying the type of piping material necessary for the completion of a public works project. Rather, it would require any acceptable piping material as defined by this bill (i.e. PVC) to be considered.
- This language undermines the professional discretion of city engineers and the language in the bill, if passed, would create bidding confusion and likely lead to increased costs and projects delays.
- HB 1116, authored by Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart), will be heard in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee next week. Aim and several other coalition partners will continue talking with lawmakers about our opposition.
ORDINANCE VIOLATION FEES
- SB 158 would reduce the maximum fees that can be charged for any ordinance violation by 90% (from $2,500 to $250 for a first offense and from $7,500 to $750 for a second offense). It also prohibits local units from fining owners of residential apartment complexes on a per-unit basis, and instead requires any fine to be applied only once per complex.
- Aim opposes this bill because it would greatly reduce the teeth of ordinances designed to protect health, safety, code enforcement, and quality of life at rental facilities and also limits the effectiveness of ordinance violations of all other types.
- SB 158, authored by Sen. Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) will likely be heard in the Senate Local Government committee next week.
ELECTRONIC PUBLIC NOTICES
- Two bills, SB 332 and HB 1498, would allow some of the public notices currently required to be published in the local paper to be published on the local unit’s website instead.
- Aim supports these bills because they can begin to modernize local government and save communities money that is currently used to pay the local papers for posting public notices.
- SB 332, authored by Sen. Jim Buck (R-Kokomo) passed the Senate Local Government committee 7-2 on Thursday. HB 1498, authored by Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart), passed the House Government and Regulatory Reform committee 10-3 on Tuesday.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“During meetings with our congressional representatives, Mayor Thallemer and I tried to drive home the point that our [COVID-19] impacts will not be seen for another 12 months or so because of the delay in income taxes and how Indiana uses the income taxes. That seemed to resonate and was well taken. There is still a lot of partisan positioning still in Congress, but both of our US Senators seem to recognize a need for local governments to get help from the feds for funding issues.”
– Aim CEO Matt Greller
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