March 5, 2021
The Big Issues
GUBENATORIAL AND EMERGENCY POWERS
- HB 1123 and SB 407 both seek to proscribe the powers of the governor and the General Assembly in states of emergency. At the core, both bills seek to give the General Assembly more involvement when an emergency continues for an extended period of time, but each bill contains significant differences from the other.
- HB 1123 would allow the General Assembly to call itself back into session for an emergency session, while SB 407 would require the General Assembly to be called back in session and approve any extension of an emergency order beyond a 60-day period. HB 1123 also includes provisions that 1) prevent local governments from restricting religious worship; 2) require county commissioners (or city councils, for city health departments) to approve restrictions from their health departments that are more stringent than statewide orders; and 3) allow less stringent local health orders if that is allowed under the Governor’s executive order. SB 407 contains other provisions that would require federal aid to be appropriated by the General Assembly (if in session) or approved by the State Budget Committee (if not in session).
- HB 1123, authored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne), and SB 407, authored by Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange), have each passed their respective chambers and have been assigned to the Rules and Legislative Procedures Committees for the second half of session. These negotiations and discussions will be ongoing.
BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX
- SB 336 would allow the business personal property tax exemption to be calculated using the assessed value of the property (instead of its acquisition value). This would result in an estimated 52,000 more businesses qualifying with a revenue loss of $12M in local government revenue, $5M of which will come from cities and towns.
- The originally introduced version contained far more significant language that eliminated the depreciation floor on new business personal property, but those provisions were removed in the Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee. The bill still represents a “chipping away” at the BPPT without an identified state revenue replacement plan.
- SB 336, authored by Senator Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. Aim will testify in opposition, and will be on the lookout for any efforts to take the language back to its original form.
- SB 352 and SB 377 reprioritize Indiana’s broadband deployment grants to ensure that underserved areas of the state receive the financial support they need to build out broadband infrastructure. They focus on mapping underserved areas, prioritizing underserved areas, and ensuring funding goes where it can have the largest impact per dollar. SB 359 also allows financing agreements between local governments and broadband providers to build infrastructure in underserved areas.
- These bills are similar and related to HB 1449 and the $250M in broadband grants in the budget bill coming from the House. All of these bills will be part of the larger broadband discussion this session, spurred by access needs accentuated by virtual learning and work-from-home policies necessitated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- SB 352, authored by Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) and SB 377, authored by Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington), will be heard on Monday in the House Utilities Committee.
POLICE AND FIRE RESIDENCY
- HB 1033 removes the existing residency requirements for city police officers, who under current law must reside within 50 miles of the city in which they work. This does not impact the current ability of cities with a population of less than 7,500 from adopting an ordinance with stricter residency requirements, and does not apply to towns.
- Aim supports the additional hiring flexibility for departments that are having a hard time recruiting new police officers or firefighters. However, we also would prefer that communities have the option to enact residency requirements if local circumstances warrant. We will continue to work with stakeholders in an effort to improve the language.
- HB 1033, authored by Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), passed the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee on Tuesday 7-0. It will now be considered by the full Senate.
PERSONAL DELIVERY DEVICES
- HB 1072 would create a framework for the use of personal delivery devices – delivery robots – to operate on sidewalks and street throughout the state.
- Aim is working with the bill authors and other stakeholders to ensure that there is sufficient ability for local units to regulate how and where these devices are deployed to maintain public safety and the integrity of local infrastructure.
- HB 1072, authored by Representative Holli Sullivan (R-Evansville), will be heard in the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee on Tuesday.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“[Virtual public hearings and meetings] continue to be one of Aim’s top priorities for this session. Both SB 369 and HB 1437 deal with virtual meetings in times of emergency and outside times of emergencies. With some parameters around the times outside of emergencies, Rep. Cook’s bill has some more guard rails in place. Sen. Rogers is offering a little more flexibility for local units in those times outside of emergencies. We are working with both authors to first determine which bill will move forward.”
– Jenna Knepper, Aim Government Affairs Manager
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