March 15, 2016
The 2016 session of the Indiana General Assembly concluded on March 10. Of the 831 bills filed by legislators, just over 220 were passed during this short, non-budget session.
AIA Indiana was busy with bills concerning historic preservation, streamlining the Department of Health plan review process, and school design issues. Thankfully, no serious harm was done to our profession even though negative proposals were introduced. Also, AIA Indiana was able to pass proactive legislation that provides positive additions to state law.
Please see the information below to learn more about the key legislative issues dealt with during the 2016 legislative session by AIA Indiana.
SB 324, authored by Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), passed out of the Indiana General Assembly and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Pence. The bill provides language to streamline the state department of health plan review process. Currently, health related projects must be submitted to both the division of fire and building safety as well as the state department of health. Language in the bill provides for a combined application process that allows an applicant to apply for a construction permit from the department of health and a design release from the division of fire and building safety by submitting a single application to the division of fire and building safety.
SB 324 also includes language that would allow a design professional to choose between submitting a project to the state plan review or to a local plan review that is approved by the State Building Commission. This language, while keeping intact the application of the state-wide building code, will help to further streamline the plan review process, thus enhancing our state's economic development efforts.
In regards to economic development, SB 324 also calls for the streamlining of the process of converting historic downtown buildings to new uses by enhancing the current Conversion Rule to include downtown commercial buildings. This will significantly improve the economic development conditions in Indiana's historic downtown communities.
Furthermore, SB 324 contains language allowing the chair of the state building commission to issue a written interpretation of a building law or fire safety law applicable to only a Class 2 structure if the building commissioner is absent.
AIA Indiana supported this bill throughout the process and worked with our allies and representatives from the Indiana Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Fire & Building Safety Services Division during the session to ensure language in the bill was agreeable to all.
AIA Indiana would like to thank Sen. Mark Messmer, Rep. Steve Stemler (D-Jeffersonville) and Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) for their efforts on SB 324.
AIA Indiana Board Member Blake Wagner, AIA testifying before the House Select Committee on Government Reduction.
(L-R) Kevin Downey, AIA and AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley.
HB 1215, authored by Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield) passed out of the Indiana General Assembly and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Pence. The bill contains language that improves and clarifies the state's Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation Grant Program including:
- Permits a historic preservation or rehabilitation grant to be awarded at the time plans are approved.
- Requires a grant contract between the Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the person receiving the grant.
- Provides that the grant may be up to 35%, instead of 20%, of the qualified expenditures, but the grant may not exceed $100,000.
- Replaces a certification that the work substantially complies with the proposed plan with a finding that the plan complies with the program guidelines.
- Eliminates the deadlines for completing the work.
- Provides that if the grant applicant is a nonprofit organization facilitating a qualified affordable housing project, the organization does not have to be the owner of the historic property to receive a grant.
AIA Indiana and Indiana Landmarks supported HB 1215 throughout the legislative process and sees the legislation as a positive step forward for historic preservation.
SB 309, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), passed out of the Indiana General Assembly and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Pence. AIA Indiana was opposed to this measure because it eliminates the property tax deduction for the rehabilitation of a structure over 50 years old.
AIA Indiana and Indiana Landmarks will be back again next session fighting for positive, pro-active historic rehabilitation measures.
HB 1394, authored by Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), includes language stating a firm hired to do a feasibility or cost study for a K-12 school must go through an additional separate selection process in order to be the architect for any projects that may result from the study. This unnecessary language was pushed by Rep. Behning.
AIA Indiana, along with our allies, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Indiana, helped make this needless language in HB 1394 at least non-harmful. Rep. Behning originally preferred language making it illegal for a firm doing the feasibility or cost study from being eligible to do the any project that would have resulted from said study. Rep. Behning felt strongly firms were "padding" the feasibility or cost study in order to reap a larger profit after receiving a contract to do the full project. To our knowledge this does not occur and it seemed this language was trying to provide a solution for a problem that does not exist. AIA Indiana and ACEC also pointed out that the owner ultimately controls the scope of the project not the architect or engineer selected to do the feasibility study or contract.
The end result of this language being included in HB 1394 is it may cause architects and engineers to actually charge for what the study is worth instead of treating it as a loss leader.
HB 1394 passed out of the Indiana General Assembly and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Pence.
AIA Indiana would like to thank Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) and Sen. Pete Miller (R-Zionsville) for their positive assistance regarding this issue.
(L-R) Joe Barnes, AIA and Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel).
SB 147, authored by Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville), school emergency response systems, requires the department of homeland security to establish minimum standards and approve best practices not later than July 1, 2017, for a school emergency response system. The intent of the bill is to implement a system that uses technology and best practices to respond to an active shooter incident.
SB 147 as introduced contained overly prescriptive language regarding school design matters. AIA Indiana expressed concerns and the bill was thankfully amended.
HB 1321 - sales tax on services, including architectural services.
Expanding the sales tax to all services, except medical and legal, was circulated but quickly withdrawn at the beginning of this legislative session. This matter continues to arise each session and is a serious threat to the Hoosier architecture profession. Last year, a number of State Senators polled their constituents on their support of a tax proposal which included an expansion of the sales tax in Indiana to services.
(L-R) AIA Indiana Board Member Andrew Mitchell, AIA, AIA Indiana President Megan Crites, AIA, and AIA Indiana Vice President Mike Davis, AIA
AIA Indiana and our allies will continue to speak out against this negative proposal, which is often touted as a tax modernization effort, during the interim.
It is beneficial to your profession for you to contact your legislators now and urge them to oppose any measure that would extend the sales tax to services, in particular, architectural services. This issue will surely return in the 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly, which is a budget session. If passed, Hoosier architecture firms would be in the tax collection business and be at an immediate disadvantage to out of state firms that are not required to carry this burden.
House of Representatives Phone - 800/382-9842
State Senate Phone - 800/382-9467
AIA Indiana Legislative Committee
The AIA Indiana Legislative Committee reviews, provides feedback, and recommends positions on pending legislation. Dan Mader, AIA is the AIA Indiana Legislative Committee chair. Please contact AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley, 317-634-6993, firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in serving on this committee. Any AIA Indiana member in good standing is eligible to serve.
to view the full list of bills being followed by AIA Indiana.
Your comments and input are welcome regarding any of the bills listed.
Do not hesitate to contact AIA Indiana Executive Director Jason Shelley, email@example.com, 317-634-6993, if you have questions or concerns regarding these or any other issues.