ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL LEGISLATIVE DINNER!
- Nearly 400 municipal officials, state leaders and legislators joined Aim at The Crane Bay on March 20 to celebrate cities and towns and all who work cooperatively towards their success.
- Gracy Olmstead was on hand to deliver insightful remarks about localism and how political ideology should be separate from the business of building quality places for people to live, work and raise their families.
- A special thank you goes to the lawmakers who attended and the many municipal officials who drove in from around the state. Without you and our presenting sponsor, Vectren Indiana, a CenterPoint Energy company, the evening wouldn’t have been possible.
- Finally, we appreciate the participation of Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Aim President and Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner, AT&T’s Bill Soards, and Vectren’s Brad Ellsworth, who all contributed the evening’s success.
- SB 535 regarding extraterritorial jurisdiction, cleared the Senate 39-8 in the first half of the legislative session.
- The bill initially eliminated nearly all municipal rights to regulate or exercise authority within the 2 mile “buffer” zone around a city or town’s corporate boundary. An amendment was accepted in committee to restore all current municipal rights in the 2 mile buffer. For municipalities under 95,000, they will now fall under the requirement for county commissioner approval if they adopt a new comprehensive plan or exercise for the first time their extraterritorial jurisdiction rights. Municipal extraterritorial eminent domain authority (without express statutory authorization) and extraterritorial jurisdiction over watercourses remain prohibited under the bill.
- While historical urban/rural policy disagreements have been cited as the impetus for the bill, recent municipal regulations of wind farm development or expansion up to 4 miles outside corporate boundaries is also a major debate occurring in the context of this bill. The bill is authored by Sen. Phil Boots and is sponsored in the House by Rep. Steve Davisson and Rep. Doug Gutwein. The bill was assigned to the committee Rep. Gutwein chairs, the House Select Committee on Government Reduction, where it was heard earlier this week. No vote was taken.
- Rep. Ed Clere authored HB 1625, which places extremely onerous requirements on cities and towns regarding the preparation of various fiscal analyses and housing fee reports.
- The bill requires that a community prepare a fiscal analysis if a unit’s proposed ordinance or regulation may directly or indirectly increase or decrease the cost of housing in the municipality. Further, it requires every municipality to annually prepare a housing fee report to be posted on the municipality’s web site and provides that a municipality may not impose any housing related fee that is not: (1) included in the fee report; or (2) posted on the municipality’s web site.
- Sen. Mark Messmer is the Senate sponsor of HB 1625 and the bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee on March 26. Aim members with a senator on this committee are encouraged to call them and explain the fiscal challenges and increased bureaucracy that would result under this bill. For more information about the housing industry in Indiana, read this report from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research.
RENTAL PROPERTY UTILITY BILLING
- HB 1347, a Rep. Woody Burton bill being carried in the Senate by Sen. Jack Sandlin, will make it more difficult for municipal utilities to pursue unpaid utility bills from rental property owners.
- The bill requires a municipality to provide notice to other lien holders when a sewer bill is 60 days delinquent. If we do not provide that notice within 20 days units cannot place a lien on the rental property. This timeline is unworkable due to the time it takes to complete a full title search.
- Aim has opposed this bill as it takes away local decision making authority and forces other property taxpayers to assume the burden for landlords who do not want to be responsible for their property. The use of liens by municipal utilities has been an effective way to ensure payment of sewer bills and the loss of this resource will cause fiscal impacts affecting other rate payers. Over Aim’s objections and much confusion about the realities of the bill, it cleared the Senate Utilities Committee 8-2.
- HB 1406 is a significant positive bill designed to assist local units with a meaningful tool for addressing Indiana’s aging underground infrastructure.
- The bill establishes parameters for the state’s Water Infrastructure Assistance Program. Although the initiative will be administered via the State Revolving Fund as a loan, program guardrails include some that are similar to those included in the Community Crossings transportation program – e.g. with the requirement of an asset management plan, and that 40% of the funds must be spent in smaller communities and rural areas.
- Rep. Ed Soliday is the bill’s author, and Sen. Charbonneau is carrying the bill in the Senate. Setting up the guidelines for the Water Infrastructure Assistance Program is important as the state’s biennium budget includes $20 Million to kick start this vital initiative.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“Alcohol permits are one of the more common things that we hear about from our membership, the lack of accessibility to them and it’s really a critical part of economic development now as well… It’s pretty normal for alcohol bills the last 24 to 48 hours that language is all over the place trying to find a home for it. So, it will be something we work until the last few hours.”
– Brian Gould, Aim Government Affairs Director
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