Coming into the 2022 legislative session, the Build Indiana Council team anticipated a relatively quiet year for activity on road and bridge issues. Much of our focus is on setting the stage for serious conversations about the future of Hoosier infrastructure funding when lawmakers write a new two-year state spending plan next year. Now that we’re a few weeks into the legislative session and as key deadlines approach, our predictions have mostly rang true. Lawmakers have shifted focus to more imminent issues tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the push for tax cuts driven by House Republicans.
We know that setting the groundwork for a long-term approach to road and bridge funding is a multi-year effort – and those talks are ongoing. Increases to the gas tax provided by the General Assembly’s landmark infrastructure bill in 2017 are set to sunset. Now, the state again faces a turning point of ensuring it continues to invest in the Crossroads of America to receive the economic and quality-of-life benefits our vast and heavily-traveled infrastructure network provides. When the funding package passed in 2017, with its full impact realized in 2024, seven years seemed like a long time.
But time always passes quicker than you think it will!
As our team focuses on the path forward, we are closely monitoring a series of bills making it through this year’s legislative session. With this year being a “short” session, meaning lawmakers face an abbreviated timeline to conclude their work, we don’t anticipate any major changes coming our way. However, the General Assembly likes to keep things interesting. Read on for the bills and issues BIC is following on behalf of our members. Click here for a complete list of bills we’re tracking this legislative session.
- Property rights matters have garnered the attention of the 2022 General Assembly. Multiple bills addressing the use of eminent domain, right of way acquisition and annexations have been introduced. The most concerning bill, SB 29, authored by Sen. Jim Buck initially would have had a multimillion-dollar impact on the Indiana Department of Transportation. However, the bill has since been amended in a positive manner. BIC will be watching property rights matters for the remainder of session to ensure infrastructure projects and INDOT funding are not negatively impacted.
- Public Private Partnerships (P3’s) and the expansion of their use have appeared in two different bills. SB 157 (the INDOT agency bill) extends its P3 authority from 2023 to 2031. This action is needed for the I-69 bridge project in Evansville. SB 166, authored by Sen. Kyle Walker creates a new P3 opportunity for units of local government. The bill currently includes tolling authority as well as the option to utilize availability payments as a funding mechanism. BIC will watch these bills closely as they move forward.
- Did someone say tax cut? It’s no secret House Republicans are focused on multiple tax cuts this legislative session. Eliminating the 30% floor on the business personal property tax (BPPT) is a top priority for Gov. Holcomb as well. We will be watching closely to see if Senate Republicans alter their hesitancy to make any tax cuts in a non-budget year. We will also be watching closely as there are rumblings of a potential tax cut on the sales tax, which would potentially impact the state highway fund. House Republicans have already taken significant steps to keep their tax-reduction proposals moving. On Jan. 20, the House passed a plan to provide for $1.4 billion in tax cuts by a 68-25 margin. The plan is centered on an individual income tax reduction and the lowering of the business personal property tax.
- Work zone safety is gaining traction. Both SB 179 and HB 1035 provide for a pilot program for the state to test speed cameras in work zones. Both bills cleared their initial committees and are on their way to their chamber’s respective fiscal review body. There is growing momentum for the pilot program, but there’s still a lot of work to be done as all bills rapidly move toward floor deadlines later this month. Stakeholders have been meeting with legislators and working to identify critical votes in both the Senate and the House.
Please reach out to BIC Executive Director Brian Gould, [email protected], for questions and concerns as the legislative session progresses. Funding Hoosier roads and bridges is BIC’s top priority. As we prepare for 2023 budget talks, BIC will continue to connect with our members to learn about their funding needs.