Autonomous Vehicle Bill Amended in Committee Prior to Senate Consideration

Bill # and Title: HB 1341 – Autonomous Vehicles
Author: Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso)
Summary: Preempts local government from enacting laws that prohibits the authorized use of an automated vehicle. Allows a person with a driver’s license to operate a Level 1,2 or 3 automated vehicle on a public highway. Requires automated vehicles to comply with all applicable federal and state laws pertaining to the type of motor vehicle being operated. Prohibits the use of an automated driving system or an automated vehicle that does not comply with federal and state laws concerning the functions operated by the automated driving system, unless the operating entity or individual possesses a permit that has been approved by the automated vehicle oversight task group. Requires all automated vehicles to be registered with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and any person who operates an automated vehicle to maintain proof of financial responsibility with the bureau. Requires the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to provide Level 4 and 5 vehicles regular updates on unusual road conditions or road hazards. Requires a person who operates, platoons or tests an automated vehicle to have at least $5 million worth of financial responsibility per entity. Establishes and specifies members of a task group with emergency rulemaking authority and ability to permit new technologies and prohibit certain operation of automated vehicles that present a safety hazard. Provides that use of: (1) an automated driving system; or (2) an automated vehicle; does not exempt a responsible occupant or remote operator from certain obligations following an accident involving an automated vehicle. Provides civil immunity to the original manufacturer of a motor vehicle that is subsequently converted into an automated vehicle in certain instances.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Amended and passed by the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee 7-1; eligible for Senate final action next week.

Update/Chamber Action: A significant amendment changed the dynamics of how automated vehicles are tested, approved and used on Indiana highways; it makes the approval process more in line with what Colorado does: A person can operate the vehicle if it complies with federal and state laws. It makes the presumption that if an autonomous vehicle does not comply with all federal, state and local laws, then an operator needs to get a permit from a state task group before driving on Indiana roads. The amendment also requires INDOT to provide regular updates on unusual road conditions or road hazards to any vehicle that is truck platooning.

High Speed Internet Service Bill Tweaked in Committee

Bill # and Title: HB 1065 – High Speed Internet Service
Author: Rep. David Ober (R-Albion)
Summary: Changes the minimum speed thresholds for broadband services to at least 25 megabits (now 10 megabits) per second downstream and at least three (now one) megabits upstream. (Current law sets the minimum speed threshold at 384 kilobits per second in at least one direction.) Changes the minimum and maximum speed thresholds for those geographic areas which are a priority to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in developing and implementing high speed internet service. Provides that the Office of Technology shall assist the corporation with the application of state and federal grants. Directs the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to study certain topics regarding broadband services in Indiana and issue a report to the Interim Study Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications before October 1, 2018.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Amended and passed 11-0 from the Senate Utilities Committee; now ready for full Senate consideration next week.

Update/Chamber Action: This bill had four amendments approved in committee. The first amendment by Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) gave direct marketing authority to residents and businesses for holder of a video service franchise. Her second amendment requires IEDC to map the availability of broadband service in Indiana and publish it as a data layer for GIS maps. Houchin’s third amendment included language from one of her bills to have the Office of Community and Rural Affairs award grants from the rural economic development fund to qualified broadband providers in connection with qualified broadband projects in underserved areas in Indiana. Finally, Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) offered an amendment to lower the recommended download speed from 25 megabits per second to 10 and upload speed from three megabits per second to one.

The bill keeps the overall supervision of the state’s broadband with the IEDC and brings in the state Office of Technology to assist. There is a provision of the bill which states that this summer the IURC will study broadband in Indiana, the universal service fund and broadband deployment.

House Approves Study of Regional Development Tax Credit

Bill # and Title: SB 353 – Regional Tax Credits
Author: Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn)
Summary: Urges the Legislative Council to assign to an interim study committee the tasks of studying issues related to: (1) the establishment of a regional development tax credit; (2) inclusion of property assessed as residential in a property tax allocation area; and (3) certified technology parks.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Passed by the House 94-0 and concurrence filed by Senate to take a vote on that version.

Update/Chamber Action: Earlier in the session, the regional tax credit bill was changed to a summer study committee recommendation to prepare for a more focused discussion during the 2019 budget session. The Chamber did not have expectations of this passing during a session that was defined by not opening up the state budget. We appreciate the opportunity to have a more in-depth look at taking away lesser-used tax credits for a more flexible economic development tax credit for communities to use to spur quality-of-place investments.

Central Indiana Mass Transit Option Passes Committee

Bill # and Title: HB 1080 – Central Indiana Public Transportation Projects
Author: Rep. Justin Moed (R-Indianapolis)
Summary: Repeals the prohibition that prevents certain counties from: (1) purchasing; (2) leasing; (3) acquiring; (4) constructing; or (5) operating a light rail project.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Passed the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee 7-2; up for final Senate action next week.

Update/Chamber Action: This bill allows for light rail as an option for the central Indiana transportation system. It was not amended in committee and goes to the Senate floor. The Chamber anticipates it may not receive full support in the Senate, even though this could be a positive signal to Amazon in the state’s bid to attract the new company headquarters. Mass transit is one of the factors Amazon is looking for in the region where it would locate its second headquarters.

Resource: R. Mark Lawrance at (317) 264-7547 or email: [email protected]