The Big Issues
MUNICIPALLY OWNED UTILITIES
- Among other provisions, HB 1165 would prohibit municipal utilities from ever holding a property owner liable for the unpaid utility bills of his/her tenant and from requiring utility bills to be in a property owner’s name unless the property owner specifically requests it.
- Aim opposes this bill because it hamstrings the ability of municipal utilities to recover unpaid bills and disallows existing practice in some utilities around the state.
- HB 1165, authored by Representative Woody Burton, will likely be heard next week in the House Utilities Committee. This bill was a follow-up response to HEA 1347 which he authored last year. This week, the Attorney General issued an advisory opinion that landlords cannot be held responsible for tenants’ utility bills under that law.
DELINQUENT SEWER LIENS
- If a sewer bill on a property is 60 days delinquent, HB 1085 would require the first mortgage lienholder of record on the property to be notified within 20 days before a sewer lien can be applied to the property.
- Aim opposes this bill because it would constitute a significant administrative burden on our municipal utilities to dedicate staff time and resources to implement an unnecessary process that does not best serve the responsible customers of the utility.
- HB 1085, authored by Representative Jim Pressel, was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. At this time, the Chairman plans to hear the bill on Monday, January 27.
- Every year, to develop Aim’s operational initiatives, we reach out to our members to find statutes that are outdated, inefficient, or impede the successful functioning of Indiana’s cities and towns.
- This year, three of these ideas were included in HB 1100 to streamline the day-to-day workings of our cities and towns: 1) clarifying bidding procedures for property purchases by abutting landowners; 2) improving communication between units when a LIT change is considered; and 3) allowing city and town courts to keep de minimis overpayments as an administrative fee.
- HB 1100, authored by Representative Ethan Manning, passed the House Local Government Committee 12-0 on Thursday. Due to an amendment unrelated to Aim’s language in the bill, the bill was recommitted to the House Ways & Means Committee, where it will be considered next.
- SB 23 would remove the ability of municipalities to initiate annexations. Only voluntary and super-voluntary annexations would be allowed were SB 23 to pass into law.
- Annexation is a valuable tool for growing communities. Removing the ability of municipalities to initiate an annexation would disrupt long term planning and the ability of cities and towns to grow. In light of the significant reform of the annexation statute in 2015, Aim opposes SB 23’s attempt to further limit our ability to grow and develop through annexation.
- SB 23, authored by Senator Phil Boots, was heard in the Senate Local Government committee on Thursday, where it was amended from its introduced form to the form described above. The amended bill was held to be discussed and voted on at a future meeting.
PIPING MATERIALS FOR PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS
- SB 55 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.
- Aim opposes this bill because it undermines the professional discretion of city engineers and may cause a municipality to accept a bid with piping materials that are not best suited for the needs of the project. Because municipalities are bound to accept the lowest responsible and responsive bid on public works projects, if a bid comes in for a cheaper material that the engineer has deemed inappropriate for the project, we are bound by law to accept the bid.
- SB 55, authored by Senator Blake Doriot, was heard on Thursday in the Senate Commerce and Technology committee but was held and no vote was taken at that time.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“Investment Hubs is the idea that regions can work together for transformational quality of life type projects. It provides a new revenue source that a number of communities that come together with a certain amount of population to really invest in these major capital intensive projects that will improve quality of life, brings new revenue options to those regions, allows cities, towns, and counties to work across jurisdiction boundaries.”
– Aim CEO Matt Greller
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