March 19, 2021
The Big Issues
- HB 1006 is a police reform bill that would define chokeholds as deadly force for police officers and mandate de-escalation training statewide.
- It also creates a process for decertifying officers from being an officer anywhere in Indiana if the state Law Enforcement Training Board determines there was sufficient misconduct, and requires departments to share officer personnel files and disciplinary histories with one another when considering new officer hires.
- HB 1006, authored by Representative Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon), passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday and will now go to the governor for his signature.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
- On March 11 President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion package designed to ameliorate the economic effects of COVID-19, further fund testing and the vaccine rollout, and provide more aid for reopening schools.
- Part of this package is $350 billion in direct aid to state and local governments. In Indiana, the State will receive $3.2B, and local governments will receive a total of $2.6B. Unlike the prior CARES Act dollars, which was made available to local governments at the state’s discretion, the ARP aid will be a mandatory distribution based on the federal distribution formula.
- The money is expected to be distributed around mid-May, and the State Board of Accounts has already issued some guidance on the accounting procedures that must be followed. Aim will continue to put out information as it becomes available.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
- HB 1271 is the annual agency bill for the Department of Local Government Finance, but it often becomes an omnibus bill to which many local government finance policy changes are attached.
- Included in HB 1271 is an Aim legislative initiative that raises the cap on how much of a local government’s budget can be transferred to the rainy day fund in any year from 10% to 15% through 2024, allowing local governments to prepare for LIT losses in 2022 and save general fund revenues for future projects while federal stimulus funding is available.
- HB 1271, authored by Representative Dan Leonard, passed the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee on Tuesday 12-0. It is now eligible for passage on the Senate floor.
GUBENATORIAL AND EMERGENCY POWERS
- HB 1123 seeks to proscribe the powers of the governor and the General Assembly in states of emergency, seeking to give the General Assembly more involvement when an emergency continues for an extended period of time. SB 5 allows individuals who are subject to a local heath department enforcement action to appeal the enforcement of that action to county commissioners (for county health departments) or the city council (for city health departments).
- House Bill 1123 as amended would give the General Assembly a mechanism to call itself back into session for a special session to address a governor’s executive orders. Some items were removed by the committee, including provisions that prevent local governments from restricting religious worship and that require county commissioners (or city councils, for city health departments) to approve restrictions from their health departments that are more stringent than statewide orders. These items though may still be addressed in different bills.
- HB 1123 was amended and voted out of the Senate Rules Committee this week 8-4. Although the Senate in the first half passed their own version dealing with the same issues, House Bill 1123 as amended is a blending of the two versions and might represent what is close to the final compromise between the House and the Senate. SB 5 was also heard in the House Rules Committee this week, though it was held for further discussion.
PLANNING AND ZONING
- HB 1337, authored by Rep. Matt Hostettler (R-Patoka), would grant the authority to authorize special uses to legislative bodies (instead of BZAs) in counties with an area plan commission. An amendment was added in the first half that prevents Advisory Plan Commissions from prohibiting agricultural uses or timbering in the two-mile fringe outside corporate boundaries, but this language was removed in committee this week.
- Aim opposed the ag uses/timbering language, and we were glad to see it removed. The underlying bill will still be a change in process for municipalities that are part of an Area Plan Commission, by turning BZA decisions into recommendations to the legislative body, instead of final decisions that are appealable to the court.
- After hearing some initial committee discussion and the testimony of a local planning expert, the Chairman decided to hold the bill without taking further testimony. It is unclear at this time whether the bill will be brought back for further amendments and/or a vote.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“Senator Bray announced sine die will be moved up to April 21, instead of the original sine die of April 29, a week earlier. This means that there is going to be changes to the schedule, as well with changes to deadlines, committees, etc. It moves everything up by a week, which is big news.”
– Jenna Knepper, Government Affairs Manager
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