After a stellar 2017, the 2018 short legislation session has been more measured – largely based on the lack of desire to “open up the budget”. While some issues moved ahead as intended, several bold ideas have evolved into a study committee or tabled until next year.

Below is a summary of where several key bills stand:

The Regional Tax Credit bills morphed into a study committee. At the start of the session, there were two bills – HB 1048, authored by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne), and SB 353, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) – with similar language to leverage private investment and encourage “place-making” development projects for Indiana communities. Both bills received hearings and the Chamber testified in support of them. Both bills would have replaced the Industrial Recovery Tax Credit (also known as DINO) and the Community Revitalization Enhancement District (CRED) with this tax credit to redevelop distressed properties.

Because of the potential fiscal impact, SB 353 was amended to make it a summer study committee, hopefully facilitating a more informed discussion during the 2019 budget session; HB 1048 was held from a vote. The House will now consider the summer study committee language in SB 353.

The Autonomous Vehicle legislation is alive and well, and set to be considered in the Senate. House Bill 1341, authored by Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 94-0. The bill tries to balance the process and ability of auto manufacturers to test autonomous vehicles (AV) on Indiana roads with public safety considerations. The bill also sets up protocol for truck platooning (which allows trucks to follow more closely aided by WiFi and GPS technology) with greater fuel efficiency.

Many of the auto manufactures do not like state-by-state regulation of AV testing, but absent more defined regulations by the federal government, this bill is seeking an optimum balancing point of safety and ability to test and operate an AV in Indiana. The Chamber will continue to work with legislators on this bill during its consideration by the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Crider (R-Greenfield).

Small Cell Wireless issues get addressed. House Bill 1050, authored by Rep. David Ober (R-Albion), has emerged as the bill to fix the unintended consequences from a language drafting error on a conference committee report for the small cell legislation (SB 213) during the 2017 session. The drafting error allowed a two-week window where 59 municipalities passed either a resolution or ordinance to allow for more local control of utility right of ways and permitting, especially with underground utilities. These local actions made it more difficult for carriers to implement 5G wireless networks.

A compromise was worked out in committee to allow local control for a utility pole or wireless equipment in a right of way that is designated strictly for underground or buried utilities in an area if it was zoned residential before May 1, 2017. The bill passed the House 75-17 and moves to the Senate for their consideration. The Chamber supports this change and the bill.

High Speed Internet Service amended and improved. House Bill 1065, authored by Rep. David Ober (R-Albion), was amended to take out the language that gave jurisdiction of broadband in Indiana to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and keeps it with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The Chamber supported this change and now supports the bill, which also raises the speed threshold of broadband in Indiana to more contemporary levels.

Sales Tax Exemption for Data Warehouse Equipment died in committee. House Bill 1340, authored by Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie), was an issue the Chamber wanted to advance as a priority for the tech community. However, the bill was never heard in the House Ways and Means Committee due to fiscal concerns. It is certainly an issue to take up next year.

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