The Big Issues
- Crawfordsville Senator Phil Boots’ anti-annexation bill, SB 94, includes several damaging provisions aimed at curbing what little annexation authority remains, including voiding annexation waivers, and adding some significantly onerous petition language.
- Aim opposed the bill in the Senate Local Government Committee last week. Aim continues to talk with lawmakers regarding the unnecessary continuation of an issue that was effectively addressed in previous sessions. Additional annexation restrictions seek only to eliminate annexation all together.
- Several other annexation bills, or language on annexation, have been introduced this session. Aim is monitoring SB 556, HB 1389, HB 1403, and HB 1427.
- On the positive side regarding annexation, Rep. Mahan has been working with Aim to advance language in HB 1359 that lengthens several deadlines pertaining to voluntary annexations, and initiates a shot clock for annexation waivers in hopes of putting this issue to bed once and for all.
WATER AND SEWER ROW
- SB 193, authored by Sen. Bohacek of LaPorte, severely changes local decision making authority relative to water and sewer connections in the public right of way.
- Among the bill’s troubling provisions are allowing a property owner with a failing septic system to access the public right of way to connect to another unity’s water or sewer utility, and allows the unit that owns and operates the system being connected to waive the remonstrance waiver mandate for connecting.
- The bill was amended in the Senate Local Government Committee to require permitting approval by the local unit before connectivity can occur. This minor amendment does not cure the many objections Aim has to the bill.
- HB 1034 is authored by Rep. Thompson of Lizton and includes Aim’s initiative to make changes to exiting law governing controlled projects.
- Aim seeks to remove road and street projects from the definition of controlled project. Further, Aim seeks to remove the annual controlled project dollar amount cap and adjust the dollar amount thresholds in a way so that cities and towns are not negatively affected.
- As amended, in addition to removing road, street and bridge projects from the controlled project definition, the bill allows the removal of non-property tax dollars when calculating whether a project meets the $25 Million controlled project threshold.
- Another bill headed to Sen. Buck’s Senate Local Government Committee, authored by Sen. Boots, is SB 535 regarding extraterritorial jurisdiction.
- The bill eliminates nearly all municipal rights to regulate or exercise authority within the 2 mile “buffer” zone around a city or town’s corporate boundary.
- Planning and zoning, projects impact public health and safety, operating parks or acquiring park land through eminent domain, and many other functions would be prohibited under SB 535.
- Since the passage of a major road funding package in 2017, the legislature has taken on the state’s water infrastructure needs as its next long-term project. Several bills filed this session endeavor to tackle the state’s needs.
- SB 4, HB 1438 and HB 1406 each have language that advance the causes of the state’s Water and Wastewater Task Force.
- SB 4 includes Aim’s important cyber-security plan publication language, and the other bills contain vital funding that can be leveraged for state revolving fund loans, and language that continues the work of the Water and Wastewater Task Force.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“The governor’s speech, it seemed very, very positive. It seemed focused on talent attraction, quality of place, which are all things we really like to hear – focused on his Next Level Connections trails program and what it means for us, which we really support and appreciate. It focused on everything we thought it would. Teacher pay was a big topic, funding the DCS was a big topic as well. And then he spent a considerable amount of time on the bias crimes legislation, which I think most of you have seen our statement at this point. We’re certainly supportive of that from a talent attraction and quality-of-place standpoint as well.”
– Aim CEO Matt Greller on Gov. Holcomb’s 2019 State of the State address
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