The session started very slowly due to the inaugurations of Gov. Eric Holcomb and Vice President Mike Pence. Many state legislators travelled to Washington D.C. for the event, which slowed down the session. The pace has speeded up significantly in recent days with the deadline rapidly approaching to move a bill from its house of origin, February 27.
(L-R) Luke Leising, AIA, State Representative Ed DeLaney (D - Indianapolis), and Hannah Fleck.
AIA Indiana is lobbying on behalf of positive bills that would impact the school construction process (HB 1043), maintain or increase funding of the historic preservation grant program (HB 1001), establish main street downtown redevelopment districts (HB 1207), and establish the Indiana bicycle trails task force (HB 1174).
AIA Indiana is lobbying against negative bills that would essentially kill the use of solar panels and small wind turbines (SB 309) and another that would adversely impact the specification process regarding piping materials for public works projects (HB 1226).
As in every state legislative session, your help is needed. You are urged to contact your legislators and use your clout to positively impact our profession at the statehouse. Information regarding legislative issues currently being debated and how you can help are explained below.
HB 1043, authored by Rep. Jeff Thompson (R - Lizton), raises the threshold from the current $2 million to $10 million for what is a "controlled project." This means a school board could vote to do any project up to $10 million and the taxpayers could not "remonstrate" and trigger the petition/remonstrance process. Also, it would raise the threshold from the current $10 million to $20 million for a project to be subject to the referendum process. HB 1043 also includes language that extends the period for an operating referendum for schools from seven to eight years, which would eliminate the need to conduct a special election. The bill does include a somewhat negative provision that forces a school corporation to wait 700 days after losing a referendum before trying again (current law says 350 days) but it also provides that taxpayers can petition to reduce the waiting period back down to 350. Overall this is a positive bill and supported by AIA Indiana.
HB 1043 passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee without dissent and will now be debated on the House floor. AIA Indiana will continue to work with our allies, the Indiana Association of School Business Officials and the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, in support of this legislation.
(L-R) State Representative Justin Moed (D - Indianapolis) and past AIA Indianapolis President Anna Waggoner.
HB 1001, authored by Rep. Tim Brown (R - Crawfordsville), is the state's biennial budget but will hopefully include language maintaining or increasing the funding to the Historic Renovation Grant program. The Indiana General Assembly included $1.25 million per year in the 2015 biennial budget for this program. There was overwhelming positive response to this program and the number of projects exceeded the available appropriation in the first year by $1.4 million.
The Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) is charged with oversight of this program. The program guidelines provide for a grant request of a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $100,000 per project. Eligible work is limited to the exterior of the building on properties that are at least fifty years old.
AIA Indiana, Indiana Landmarks, and the Indy Chamber strongly support the continued and increased funding of the Historic Renovation Grant Program.
Please contact your state representative and ask them to support increased funding of the Historic Renovation Grant Program in HB 1001.
House of Representatives Phone - 800/382-9842
HB 1207, authored by Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R - Leavenworth), provides that a city or town with a population of less than 20,000 may establish a main street downtown redevelopment district for the purpose of capturing sales tax collected by businesses located in the district that may be used to pay for improvements in the district. This bill is a positive step for Hoosier small towns looking for ways to improve their community. AIA Indiana supports HB 1207.
(L-R) State Representative Jerry Torr (R - Carmel) and AIA Indiana Sponsor Kristen Sprunger, Walker & Associates Insurance.
HB 1174, authored by Rep. Wes Culver (R - Goshen), establishes the Indiana Bicycle Trails Task Force (Task Force) to: develop actionable concepts to connect existing bicycle trails throughout Indiana; estimate the cost of each concept; present at least six innovative ways to fund the connections to existing bicycle trails; and prepare a timeline that shows the phases of completion to connect existing bicycle trails throughout Indiana for each funding method.
Better planning of our bike trails could have a positive impact on the overall health of Hoosiers while also potentially improving the likelihood of development around these trails. AIA Indiana supports HB 1174.
(L-R) AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley and State Senator Mark Messmer (R - Jasper) discuss SB 309.
SB 309, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R - Buck Creek), would likely lead Hoosier architects to not recommend the inclusion of solar panels or wind turbines to their clients.
SB 309 would forbid utilities from offering net metering by 2027. Net metering allows consumers who generate some or all of their own electricity to use that electricity anytime, instead of when it is generated. SB 309 also creates a punitive "buy all, sell all" system, meaning consumers using solar panels or wind turbines wouldn't be allowed to use the electricity they produce themselves but would have to sell all their electricity to the utility at a lower, wholesale rate, and then be required to buy all their electricity back from the utility at the higher retail rate. The bill introduces tremendous uncertainty into any long-term cost benefit analysis of on-site renewables for our clients.
AIA Indiana opposes SB 309 and feels our utility metering practices need to grow and evolve alongside our evolution to a renewably powered future. AIA Indiana does support an evolution of our metering practices based upon thorough and transparent analysis of the various costs of generation and distribution of energy; which fairly compensates both those who generate power as well as those who distribute it, while not shifting the costs of a shared public utility to those who may lack the means for on-site generation.
Please contact your state senator and ask them to oppose SB 309!
State Senate Phone - 800/382-9467
HB 1226, authored by Rep. Heath VanNatter (R - Kokomo), mandates engineers consider "all acceptable piping materials" for all public works. In other words, the bill seeks to legislate the criteria engineers use in determining the most appropriate materials to be used on a project. This same bill was considered in 2014 and the language required the consideration of a specific type of piping, PVC.
AIA Indiana opposes HB 1226. The bill imposes arbitrary and unnecessary specification requirements, seeks to solve a non-existent problem, and is a thinly veiled effort to promote a product. The bill would set a terrible precedent if it were to pass.
Please contact your state representative and ask them to oppose HB 1226!
House of Representatives Phone - 800/382-9842
to view the full list of bills being followed by AIA Indiana. Your comments and input are welcome regarding any of the bills listed.
AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley testifying on behalf of the Marion County Transit Plan.
Do not hesitate to contact AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley,
, 317-634-6993, if you have questions or concerns regarding these or any other issues.