March 12, 2021
The Big Issues
BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX
- SB 336 would allow the business personal property tax exemption to be calculated using the assessed value of the property (instead of its acquisition value). This would result in an estimated 52,000 more businesses qualifying for the exemption, causing a $5 million revenue loss to cities and towns.
- The originally introduced version contained far more significant language that eliminated the depreciation floor on new business personal property, but those provisions were removed in the first half of session. The bill still represents a “chipping away” at the BPPT without an identified state revenue replacement plan. Several key lawmakers have indicated an interest in phasing out or eliminating the BPPT in the future.
- SB 336, authored by Senator Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. It is unclear at this time whether the bill will be brought back for a vote, but Aim will continue to have discussions with legislators about this issue.
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 all communities have the option to enact residency requirements if local circumstances warrant.
- HB 1033, authored by Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) and sponsored by Sen. Jack Sandlin (R-Indianapolis) is currently pending on the Senate floor. The bill was eligible for final passage this week, but it had to be sent back to 2nd reading (where it can be amended) because of questions about whether this preempts existing residency requirements. We will continue to work with stakeholders in an effort to improve the language.
- There are two bills still alive this session that would give local governments new options for electronic participation of its members during public meetings. These bills are being carried by Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger) and Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero).
- SB 369 and HB 1437 both allow governing bodies to adopt a local policy to use virtual meetings. The bills each have some state-set guardrails in place that must be met (e.g., limiting the number of meetings that any one member can attend virtually each year unless there are extenuating circumstances and requiring at least 50% of the members to be in person). A local policy can be more strict than the state law, but not less strict.
- HB 1437 was heard this week in the Senate Local Government Committee but was held for further discussion about amendments, while SB 369 is pending in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. There are several important differences between the two versions, and Aim will continue to work with the stakeholders to reach as flexible a framework as acceptable to the bill’s authors and sponsors and the General Assembly at large.
CITY AND TOWN COURT ADMINISTRATION FEE
- SB 380 contains a variety of court-related matters. Among the various provisions is one that allows city and town courts to keep overpayments of up to $3 as an administrative fee.
- County circuit court clerks already have this ability, and Aim supports the extension of this ability to city and town courts as well. With this law, court personnel will not have to send out checks for de minimis overpayments for general court costs.
- SB 380, authored by Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) and sponsored by Rep. Chris Jeter (R-Fishers) passed the House Judiciary Committee this week, and was recommitted to the House Ways & Means Committee for further consideration of the fiscal items in the bill.
SECONDARY PLAT APPROVAL
- HB 1466 requires rather than allows a local unit to grant a secondary plat approval if the applicant provides a performance bond or written evidence of a contract with a utility service.
- Under current law, the unit has discretion to decide whether to approve the secondary plat with proof of the performance bond or utility contract for all required infrastructure, sidewalks and landscaping, but this will now be mandatory with the required proof of bond or contract.
- HB 1466, authored by Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) and sponsored by Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Goshen), passed Senate Local Government this week with a vote of 6-0.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“There has been a big conversation throughout this session regarding the rule that the General Assembly plays when there is a prolonged emergency like we have been experiencing throughout the pandemic and at what point, if ever, can the General Assembly call itself into an emergency or special session. HB 1123 was heard yesterday in Senate Rules. It was an extensive hearing that consisted of about 4 hours’ worth of testimony. At this point, leadership has not reached a final agreement.”
– Lindsey Moss, Chief Government Affairs Officer & Legislative Counsel
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