The Big Issues
- Crawfordsville Senator Phil Boots’ anti-annexation bill, SB 94, which essentially ends involuntary annexation, cleared the Senate 36-13 earlier this session.
- Aim strongly opposes the bill, which is being sponsored in the House by Rep. Kevin Mahan, who has continued to voice his skepticism that this kind of approach is necessary following the comprehensive annexation reforms adopted in 2015.
- The bill was heard earlier this week in Rep. Mahan’s Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. No vote was taken. We were encouraged by Rep. Mahan and other committee member’s comments that strongly questioned why this legislation is necessary, calling instead for a summer study committee to hash out whether the statute needs to be changed again. If the bill moves out of committee, it is our hope it will be a summer study only. In the meantime, Aim will continue advocating against the underlying bill.
- Aim’s government efficiency bill, authored by Rep. Mike Karickhoff of Kokomo, moved swiftly through the committee process and cleared the House unanimously.
- HB 1116 contains many different measures that will make operating city and town government easier and more efficient for municipal officials and taxpayers. The bill was amended in committee to clarify that in addition to the purchase of property, selling and leasing property can also be discussed in executive session of the council. In addition to the language regarding executive sessions, there are provisions to remove partisan affiliation requirements on local boards and commissions, eliminate residency requirements for city attorneys in certain circumstances, allow locals to use electronic bidding processes, allow more flexibility in determining note repayment dates, and allow fiscal officers to appropriate funds received for damaged property.
- Sen. John Ruckelshaus is the Senate sponsor. The bill is headed to the Senate Local Government Committee where Chairman Buck has already voiced many concerns about the efficiency measures contained in the bill. Aim will attempt to address Sen. Buck’s concerns in an effort to keep this positive legislation moving forward.
- Earlier this session, SB 535 regarding extraterritorial jurisdiction, cleared the Senate 39-8.
- Authored by Sen. Boots, 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 and extraterritorial jurisdiction over watercourses remain prohibited under the bill.
- The bill is being sponsored 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. Aim remains opposed to the bill and has further concerns that stakeholders will attempt to restore the bill’s original, highly concerning language.
- Sen. Ed Charbonneau authored SB 4, which includes Aim’s important cyber-security plan publication language, continues the work of the Water and Wastewater Task Force, and requires a study of Indiana’s water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure by region.
- The House sponsor of the bill is Rep. Ed Soliday, a strong advocate for infrastructure maintenance, shepherded the bill through his Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee earlier this week.
- The bill was amended in committee to allow municipal officials to use public funds to replace galvanized piping on private property. Currently, replacement of only lead-based piping is eligible for the use of such funds.
BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY
- SB 233, authored by Sen. Aaron Freeman and sponsored by Rep. Mike Speedy, expands the amount of property exempt from Indiana’s business personal property tax from $20,000 to $40,000.
- The bill cleared the Senate 48-0 and was heard earlier this week in the House Ways and Means Committee, where Aim testified in opposition. No vote was taken.
- During the Committee’s discussion, talk of a potential amendment emerged that would lower the depreciation floor, potentially worsening the impact of the bill dramatically. A formal amendment hasn’t been filed. Aim will be seeking additional information to help determine the likely negative fiscal impact on cities and towns.
AN AIM LEGISLATIVE MOMENT
“The budget, that’s what we’re here for. That’s going to take up a lot of the second half… The next big thing we are waiting on is a fiscal revenue update in March that will give us a better picture of what the revenue forecast will look like and what the budget will look like.”
– Brian Gould, Aim Government Affairs Director
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