Improved Wireless Structure (Small Cell) Bill Passes House

Bill # and Title: HB 1050 Small Cell Wireless Structures
Author: Rep. David Ober (R-Albion)
Summary: Provides that the definition of “wireless support structure” does not include a utility pole owned or operated by: (1) a public utility; (2) a municipality; (3) an electric membership corporation; or (4) a rural electric cooperative. Does include wireless carriers. Provides that with respect to the construction, placement, or use of small cell facilities and associated supporting structures, a permit authority may prohibit the placement of a new wireless support structure in a right-of-way within an area that is designated before May 1, 2017, strictly for underground or buried utilities, if the area was zoned for residential use before May 1, 2017. Removes a requirement that a permit authority’s prohibition on placement of utility poles and wireless support structures be applied in a non-discriminatory manner. Makes conforming changes.
Chamber Position: Support (as amended)
Status: Amended on the House floor and passed 75-18; now up for Senate consideration.

Update/Chamber Action: This bill was amended on the floor and is now a bill the Chamber fully supports. Chairman Ober’s floor amendment helped address last year’s conference committee drafting error that allowed municipalities a two-week window to pass either resolutions or ordinances to delay the permitting process of communication infrastructure. The amendment clarified that residential-only underground infrastructure had to be existing for the restrictions to be allowed. The sister bill in the Senate (SB 258) died in the Senate Utilities Committee, making HB 1050 the vehicle for this needed fix.

High Speed Internet Service Bill Passes House

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 per second downstream and at least three 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 (IURC) 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 (as amended in committee)
Status: Amended on the House floor and passed 92-0; now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Update/Chamber Action: This bill has been improved during the legislative process and was unanimously voted from the floor of the House on Thursday. 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 this summer that the IURC will study broadband in Indiana, the universal service fund and broadband deployment.

Regional Development Tax Credit to be Studied

Bill # and Title: SB 353/HB 1048 – Regional Tax Credits
Authors: Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn)/Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne)
Summary: Establishes the regional development tax credit. A taxpayer is entitled to a credit against state tax liability if: (1) the taxpayer makes a qualified investment for the redevelopment or rehabilitation of real property that is vacant or underused; and (2) the qualified investment is approved by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Specifies the factors that the IEDC shall consider in evaluating applications for a proposed qualified investment. Specifies that the credit is subject to an agreement entered into by the IEDC and the taxpayer. Provides that the amount of the credit is equal to: (1) the qualified investment made by the taxpayer and approved by the IEDC in the agreement; multiplied by (2) the applicable credit percentage determined by the IEDC. Specifies the maximum applicable credit percentages that apply to qualified investments. Prohibits the carryback or refund of any unused credit. Sunsets the CRED and DINO tax credits.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Senate Bill 353 was amended by the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee to send the issue to an interim committee and passed 7-0; now up for full Senate consideration. Meanwhile, HB 1048 was heard and held in the House Ways and Means Committee, which means it died due to the deadline to clear committee.

Update/Chamber Action: Due to the possible fiscal implications, SB 353 bill was destined to either fail or be recommended for an interim committee. While the Chamber would have liked to see this bill progress through the process and become law, we realize this will be take more than one session. We appreciate the opportunity to have it studied further to better educate legislators on its possible impact to enhance regional economic development opportunities.

Central Indiana Mass Transit Option Passes

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 House 90-5; moves to the Senate for possible action.

Update/Chamber Action: This bill to allow the consideration of light rail for a central Indiana transportation system passed from the House with the prospect of enhancing the possibility of Amazon locating its second headquarters in Indiana. The Indianapolis area is now one of 20 communities under consideration for the up to 50,000 high wage jobs that facility would bring. An effective mass transit system is one of Amazon’s considerations. The Chamber supported the bill in committee and is pleased to see it move through the process.

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