March 13, 2020
The Big Issues
EXTENSION OF WATER AND SEWER MAINS
- HB 1131 requires municipally-owned utilities to follow the IURC rules for water and sewer extensions, including requiring municipalities to pay for “upsizing” mains, where the utility would have to pay the developer the difference in cost when the utility is requesting a bigger main beyond what is necessary to serve that development.
- Aim opposed this bill, and we consistently asked the bill’s supporters to narrow the language in an effort to mitigate the detrimental effects this would have on municipally-owned utilities because of the added regulations on water and sewer main extensions and its potential cost shifts for new mains onto municipal utilities. We also argued that this is a big step that blurs the line between for-profit investor-owned utilities and municipally-owned utilities that have chosen to remain exempt from IURC regulation. Unfortunately, our attempts to narrow the bill were unsuccessful.
- HB 1131, authored by Representative Jim Pressel, passed the House 92-0 and the Senate 42-6 on Wednesday and is now going to the Governor for his consideration.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
- HB 1113 includes many local government finance provisions. Aim worked with the bill authors to ensure that harmful parts of the bill came out and to try to keep favorable provisions in.
- Fortunately, two harmful provisions were removed: one that would have put caps on the assessment of solar farms and another that would have frozen assessments on property that was successfully appealed. There is also good language that allows local governments to pay back large property tax appeals over 5-10 years, depending on the size of the appeal. Unfortunately, an Aim-initiated provision that would have required the adopting body for local income taxes to include more information in the notice to the overlapping taxing units when a LIT change is being considered was removed in the final conference committee report.
- HB 1113, authored by Representative Dan Leonard, passed the House 90-3 and the Senate 48-1 on Wednesday and is now going to the Governor for his consideration.
MUNICIPALLY OWNED UTILITIES
- HB 1165 would prohibit municipal utilities from ever holding a property owner liable for the unpaid utility bills of his tenant unless he specifically requests to hold the utility bill in his name.
- Aim opposed this bill because it hamstrings the ability of municipal utilities to recover unpaid bills and undermines existing practice in many of the utilities around the state.
- HB 1165, authored by Representative Woody Burton, failed to pass the House of Representatives with a vote of 33-59 on a concurrence vote last Wednesday, but procedurally was eligible to bring back for another vote. On Tuesday, it was placed back on the House calendar and passed 61-34. It is now going to the Governor for his consideration. Thank you to everyone who reached out in an attempt to kill this bill.
- SB 190, an Aim initiative, exempts roads, streets, and bridges from the definition of a controlled project, so that a road project will never trigger a referendum or remonstrance process which would add unnecessary delay and expense to critical transportation infrastructure projects.
- Aim supported this bill because we do not believe it was ever the intention of the controlled projects statute to include road projects, and we have seen instances of communities throughout the state coming up against these requirements as they grow and develop.
- SB 190, authored by Senator Travis Holdman, passed the House 92-0 and the Senate 29-19 on Tuesday and is now going to the Governor for his consideration.
- SB 148 preempts local ordinances that govern landlord-tenant relations, including the newly adopted Indianapolis ordinance.
- Aim was opposed to this bill because it limits locals’ ability to adopt and enforce ordinances that regulate housing issues and that could provide greater protections to tenants in communities across the state.
- SB 148, authored by Senator Blake Doriot, passed the House 64-32 and the Senate 29-19 on Wednesday and is now going to the Governor for his consideration.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“[Coronavirus] resources for our members are available on the Aim website, aimindiana.org. You’ll see a big bright red button on the home page. Click on that and you will see what we have been able to collect so far and we will continue to add what other communities around the state are doing. Mostly human resource tips on telecommuting and teleworking, making sure essential employees are at the sewer plant, utilities office, public safety, things like that. We are also planning a series of webinars to help you navigate a lot of the HR challenges that are sure to come with the virus outbreak. So stay tuned. We will provide as many resources as possible and direct you to other places as well. We’re all in it together and we will figure it out as we go and provide you with as many resources as we can.”
– Matt Greller, Aim CEO
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