Senate Bill 535 – Extraterritorial Powers of Cities and Towns
Authored by Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville)

This bill would repeal the general authority of a municipality to exercise the following powers outside of its corporate boundaries: (1) Regulating conduct or property use endangering public health, safety, and welfare. (2) Capturing and destroying animals and maintaining and operating animal shelters. (3) Operating recreational parks and exercising eminent domain to acquire property for park purposes. Provides that a municipality may only exercise eminent domain within the municipality unless a statute expressly provides otherwise. Repeals a provision that allows a municipality to exercise powers regarding watercourses within 10 miles outside its corporate boundaries. Eliminates the ability of a municipal advisory plan commission to exercise planning and zoning jurisdiction, including approval or denial of applications for improvement permits and other permits for property located in the unincorporated area on July 1, 2019.  Municipalities would still have the ability to regulate a two-mile fringe outside of its corporate limits in certain circumstances.

Chamber Position: Support

The Latest: The House Select Committee on Government Reduction heard the bill on Tuesday taking testimony from a diverse group. Two amendments were offered at the hearing. One would exempt airport authorities from the bill. The other clarifies what existing ordinances, outside of the municipalities’ jurisdiction, would be grandfathered under the proposed legislation. A vote on the bill is being held until the next committee hearing on March 26.

Chamber Action/Commentary: The Indiana Chamber testified in support of this bill. We believe local entities should not be authorized to impose restrictions or obligations on property owners and citizens outside their jurisdictional bounds. Otherwise, this essentially gives elected officials the ability to govern those who have no say in their election. Furthermore, businesses should not be subject to requirements established by a governmental entity within whose jurisdiction they are not situated. The current myriad of overlapping authority engenders jurisdictional confusion and regulatory conflicts.

At the hearing, primary opposition to the measure came from citizen groups that don’t want wind farms located near them and AIM (Accelerate Indiana Municipalities), which wants municipalities to retain their existing authority outside their boundaries.

Senate Bill 471 – Offenses Involving Critical Infrastructure
Authored by Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford)

This bill provides added protections for a critical infrastructure facility. Provides that a person who recklessly, knowingly or intentionally damages or defaces property of a critical infrastructure facility commits the offense of critical infrastructure facility mischief. Provides increased criminal penalties and civil remedies for offenses involving a critical infrastructure facility. This bill defines critical infrastructure to include energy infrastructure, pipelines, water infrastructure, certain business property, as well as protected categories as identified by federal law.

Chamber Position: Support

The Latest: The House Judiciary Committee heard the bill on Monday and adopted two minor clarifying amendments to the bill. The bill passed 8-3 and is now eligible for further action on the Senate floor.

Chamber Action/Commentary: The Indiana Chamber indicated its support of this bill, as it is designed to protect utility infrastructure, certain business assets, water infrastructure and other important infrastructure. Increased security of the critical infrastructure will ensure reliable services, which can reduce costly shutdowns for all. Those who opposed the bill contend that it will have a negative impact on free speech and peaceful demonstration. That seems to be a bit off the mark as this bill pertains to criminal activity associated with private property.

Resource: Greg Ellis at (317) 264-6881 or email: [email protected]