March 31, 2023
The Big Issues
- HB 1005 is the result of findings from the Housing Task Force that convened last fall to find ways to encourage housing development. It creates a revolving loan fund for housing infrastructure available to local units with priority given to those units that check certain boxes, including conducting a housing study, allowing higher density and waiving certain local regulations.
- This week, the language from SB 300 removing the requirement for school board approval and 1% growth limitation for use of Residential TIF was added to HB 1005 in committee. SB 300 is an Aim initiative that was also a recommendation of the Housing Task Force that passed the Senate during the first half of session.
- HB 1005, authored by Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart) and sponsored by Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday with a vote of 10-1.
- As introduced, HB 1016 would have automatically opted all police and fire departments into a merit system if they serve a population over 10,000 people and have at least 12 full-time police officers or firefighters. Opting out of the merit system would have required a majority vote of both the council and the members of the department.
- In committee this week, an amendment was adopted that removes the automatic opt-in but requires an annual public meeting by October of 2023 to consider whether to adopt a merit system for these departments. If the legislative body declines to adopt the merit system, the amended bill allows the members of the department to vote to adopt a merit system and send their recommendation to the council for consideration at a public meeting the following year. Aim worked with the chair of Pensions and Labor to reach this compromise and we are grateful to our members who reached out to members of the committee to discuss the effect of the introduced legislation.
- HB 1016, authored by Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) and sponsored by Sen. Jack Sandlin (R-Indianapolis), passed the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee on Wednesday with a vote of 10-0).
DESIGNATED OUTDOOR REFRESHMENT AREAS
- SB 20 and HB 1349 are two bills moving that would allow local units to adopt outdoor refreshment areas, or areas of the municipality inside of which alcohol can be carried out and consumed for special events or an ongoing outdoor amenity.
- Allowing this framework has been an Aim initiative for years. Aim has been working with the bill authors and sponsors to ensure that local units have the maximum flexibility to use this tool in the manner they determine is best for their communities, either as a permanent amenity or an area for special events and festivals.
- SB 20, authored by Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) and sponsored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne), was amended in the House Public Policy Committee on Tuesday to include Aim recommendations as well as some unrelated language and was held for vote at a future meeting. HB 1349, authored by Rep. Shane Lindauer (R-Jasper) and sponsored by Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), will be heard next Wednesday in the Senate Public Policy Committee.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE TAXES
- SB 37 would sunset all existing food and beverage taxes in the later of 2045 or when their bonds expire and impose new reporting requirements on food and beverage taxes. Aim opposes this language because of the onerous nature of the reporting requirements and because it affects long-standing food and beverage taxes that are relied upon by their communities.
- SB 388 and SB 428 would create new food and beverage taxes for Merrillville, Jasper, and Columbia City. These requests for new food and beverage taxes meet certain standards, including a demonstration of local support, a sunset and an outline of specific projects the revenue would go toward.
- All three of these bills were heard this week in the House Ways and Means Committee but were held so that they can possibly be revisited later in session.
REQUIREMENTS FOR LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS
- HB 1040 would require annual training for local fiscal officers like controllers, clerks and clerk-treasurers and provides a process for unauditable communities to come into compliance with SBOA within 90 days or securing outside financial help to come into compliance.
- This week amendments were added to clarify the process for filling a vacancy for a clerk-treasurer when no one can be found who is willing to serve. The town can hire a professional after a reasonable amount of time searching for someone to serve as clerk-treasurer.
- HB 1040, authored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) and sponsored by Sen. Eric Bassler (R-Washington), was engrossed on second reading on Thursday and will be voted on by the full Senate next week.
AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“We’re at the point where four weeks seems like a marathon and not a sprint, but we can do anything for 28 days. It’s the point of session where all the big things are starting to be talked about and there’s a lot left on the table, so there’s some big stuff still to be tackled.”
-Jenna Bentley, Aim Government Affairs Director
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