Bill would mandate more housing studies


A bill that would mandate more housing studies is still being discussed in the Indiana Legislature.

House Bill 1625 would require local governments to prepare a housing study if they intend to adopt an ordinance that may increase or decrease the cost of housing.

Local government and government associations have been vocal about their displeasure of the bill, calling it an unfunded mandate that will be costly to them.

“We’ve been trying to work with the local government representatives,” said Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, “and trying to work with the people in the realtors and construction companies that are concerned about the impact of ordinances on housing costs. But we haven’t come to any resolution.”

The bill passed the House of Representatives on Feb. 21 by a vote of 52 to 47. Both Reps. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, and Steve Bartels, R-Eckerty, voted against it, stating they didn’t see any benefit to local governments. Messmer is a sponsor of the bill, which is needed for a House bill to stay alive in the Senate. Currently, the bill is in the Senate’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, of which both Messmer and Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, are members. The bill received a hearing at the committee’s March 26 meeting, but has not yet moved from the committee.

“I don’t know if that bill is going to ultimately move or not,” Messmer said.

As a sponsor of the bill, he has been researching various amendments to the bill, but nothing has been found as workable.

“I’m looking to make this become something that is useful to local governments,” he said. “We don’t want this to become something that requires expensive studies that don’t, at the end of the day, have any real effect on addressing housing cost issues.”

He has been working with the Association of Municipalities and the Association of Indiana Counties to find such a resolution.

“We want to get to a point where they feel like this is something that can be a valuable tool to them, and not just an administrative burden,” Messmer said. “At this point, I’ve not found a spot where I feel that it is an effective tool.”

If a solution is not found, he said, the bill could very well die in committee.

A bill currently in committee must pass that committee before it can be heard by the full chamber. The last day for that to happen is Thursday, April 11.

The last day House bills in the Senate can be amended by the Senate is Monday, April 15; that is also the last day Senate bills in the House can be amended by the House.

The last day a bill has to pass its second chamber is Tuesday, April 16. After that, bills that have been amended are sent back to the original chamber. If the original chamber does not agree to the amendment or amendments, the bills go into a conference committee to be negotiated.

By law, the Indiana General Assembly must end its legislative session by April 29.

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