March 17, 2023
The Big Issues
- A recent Indiana Tax Court decision put into question the historic definition of a homestead for the purposes of property taxation. This definition has included one house, one garage, and one acre of land for as long as homesteads have been a category in property tax law. SB 325 seeks to clarify this definition.
- As introduced, SB 325 restored the historic definition of a homestead in Indiana code, which Aim supported. The current version allows all non-commercial structures within one acre to be considered part of the homestead for purposes of the deductions and credits. This change would shift property taxes away from homesteads and to other property types and to tax cap losses as well as create administrative difficulty for local assessors. Aim will continue to advocate for the historic definition of homesteads to be applied going forward and for this clarification to be included in SB 325.
- SB 325, authored by Sen. Brian Buchanan (R-Lebanon) and sponsored by Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton), was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday but was held for possible amendment and vote at a later meeting.
- SB 4 is the legislation that came out of the Governor’s Public Health Commission to increase funding for local health departments and give municipalities representation on public health boards. It is currently set up as an annual grant program tied to local plans on improving core public health services.
- This week, SB 4 was heard in the House where key members of the House majority expressed interest in shifting the funding from focusing on local public health departments to running public health programs through local providers. Aim continues to believe that the best mechanism is funding local public health departments and we will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure new public health funding is focused on public health departments.
- SB 4, authored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) and sponsored by Rep. Brad Barrett (R-Richmond), was heard in the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday but was held for amendment and vote at a future meeting.
- Several communities with problems regarding irresponsible breeders or large numbers of stray dogs have enacted ordinances banning retail sales of dogs inside their jurisdiction. SB 134 would preempt these type of ordinances from being passed in the future if they affect vendors that meet certain certification of standards.
- Aim opposes this bill because it limits local decision making over specific local problems with stray dogs and irresponsible breeders that become the responsibility of local animal control departments if it cannot be dealt with preemptively.
- SB 134, authored by Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Goshen) and sponsored by Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne), will be heard next week in the House Agriculture Committee.
PREPAYMENTS AND DEPOSITS
- SB 317 would allow local governments to prepay for goods and services as long as the prepayment is less than 50% of the entire project and meets other requirements to ensure financial responsibility. This week the bill was amended to include other provisions related to county sheriff’s offices and other county contracting provisions.
- Allowing prepayments for local purchases has been a long-standing Aim and ILMCT priority that has gained increasing urgency in recent years as more vendors, including contractors, have been requiring prepayments in order to secure purchases. The inability to make prepayments or deposits has resulted in lost contracts and increased costs for local units. We will continue to ensure that this bill moves forward even as unrelated amendments are added to the bill.
- SB 317, authored by Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) and sponsored by Rep. Chris May (R-Bedford), passed the House Local Government Committee and was engrossed on Second Reading this week. It will be brought for a full vote of the House likely next week.
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAXES
- Conversations at the Statehouse continue regarding the rise in residential property tax assessments due to the real estate market increase during 2022. Next week a Senate bill focused on property tax relief, SB 46, will be heard in the Ways and Means Committee.
- SB 46 would allow counties to designate all or part of their county as an area experiencing high residential property tax growth and apply an optional credit to those property taxes that caps the growth of property tax liabilities to a percentage adopted locally between 2 and 5 percent.
- SB 46 would be a bill that could be amended to include other property tax relief provisions. Aim will continue to monitor this and other property tax relief bills to ensure that any property tax relief is targeted to specific problems and does not create large changes to the property tax system or create large fiscal impacts to local government.
AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“The state budget has so many components that impact cities and towns and it’s definitely one that we have to pay close attention to. Overall the House passed a version that is in really good shape for us but that is step one of what will be a long negotiation between the House and the Senate.”
– Jenna Bentley, Aim Government Affairs Director
Our Legislative Summary Sponsors
Please click on the logos below to learn more about our sponsors.