After this spring’s legislative session, Governor Mike Pence signed into Indiana law the following real estate-related legislation:

Public Law 88 – Limited Liability Arising From Trespassing

Public Law 88 provides that a person, including an owner, a lessee or another occupant of real property, who possesses any fee, reversionary or easement interest in real property, does not owe a duty of care to a trespasser, except to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring the trespasser, after the trespasser has been discovered on the real property possessed by the person. The person may, however, be subject to liability for physical injury or death to a child trespasser under certain circumstances.

Authored as Senate Bill 306 by Sen. Rodric Bray, Sen. Randall Head and Sen. Timothy Lanane; co-authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, Sen. James Arnold, Sen. Brent Steele, Sen. Greg Taylor and Sen. Michael Crider; and sponsored by Rep. Gregory Steuerwald, Rep. Eric Allan Koch and Rep. Steven Stemler. Senate Bill 306 was signed into law as Public Law 88 by Governor Mike Pence on April 30, 2015.

Public Law 94 – Statutory Authorization to Construct Interstates

Public Law 94 removes the requirement that the General Assembly must enact a statute authorizing the construction of Interstate 69 (“I-69”) in Perry Township, Marion County, before I-69 may be constructed in Perry Township.

Authored as House Bill 1036 by Rep. John Price; co-authored by Rep. Eric Allan Koch, Rep. Woody Burton and Rep. Edward DeLaney; and sponsored by Sen. Rodric Bray, Sen. Greg Walker, Sen. Brent Steele and Sen. James Arnold. House Bill 1036 was signed into law as Public 94 by Governor Mike Pence on April 30, 2015.

Public Law 178 – Regional Cities

Public Law 178 establishes the Indiana regional city fund (“Fund”) to provide grants and loans to regional development authorities. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (“IEDC”) will administer the Fund. The law also broadens the definition of “project” under the regional development authority statute (Ind. Code 36-7.6) to include “any project that enhances a region with the goal of attracting people or business.”

The law specifies that the board of the IEDC (“Board”) may not approve an application for a grant unless:

  1. The budget committee has reviewed the application;
  2. The Board finds that approving the application will have an overall positive return on investment for the state; and
  3. The application has received a positive recommendation from the strategic review committee.

The law provides that when the Board awards a grant or makes a loan from the fund, the Indiana Finance Authority (“IFA”), upon request of the Board, may determine that part of the grant or loan shall be made from the environmental remediation revolving loan fund, established by Ind. Code 13-19-5-2 (“revolving loan fund”), if:

  1. Sufficient money has been transferred from the underground petroleum storage tank excess liability trust fund established by Ind. Code 13-23-7-1 (“excess liability fund”) to the revolving loan fund for that budget year;
  2. The application requests funds for the elimination or mitigation of a release of petroleum from an underground storage tank;
  3. The project is ineligible for assistance from the excess liability fund; and
  4. The project meets applicable eligibility requirements established by the IFA for assistance from the revolving loan fund.

The law also:

  1. Provides that third class cities and towns may become members of a regional development authority;
  2. Changes the rules governing the membership of a board of a regional development authority;
  3. Requires a regional development authority to report various types of information to the IEDC; and
  4. Replaces mandatory contributions to a regional development authority by a member county or municipality as a condition of membership with contributions for the support of specific projects that have been agreed to by some or all of the member counties and municipalities.

Authored as House Bill 1403 by Rep. Jerry Torr; co-authored by Rep. Edward Clere, Rep. Christina Hale and Rep. Harold Slager; and sponsored by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, Sen. Ronald Grooms, Sen. Ryan Mishler, Sen. Karen Tallian, Sen. John Broden and Sen. Ron Alting. House Bill 1403 was signed into law as Public Law 178 by Governor Mike Pence on May 6, 2015.

Public Law 244 – Property Tax Appeals

Public Law 244 provides that when a deadline imposed upon a political subdivision, the department of local government finance or the Indiana board in the property tax statutes is not a business day, the last day for the political subdivision, the department of local government finance, or the Indiana board to take the action required is the first business day after the stated deadline.

The law allows the fiscal officer of a taxing unit to establish a property tax assessment appeals fund to hold property tax receipts that are attributable to an increase in the taxing unit’s tax rate caused by a reduction in the taxing unit’s net assessed value (as permitted under current law). The money in the fund may be used only to pay a county assessor’s appeal expenses and property tax refunds. The fund’s balance may not exceed 5 percent of the amount budgeted by the taxing unit for a particular year. Money deposited in the fund is not considered miscellaneous revenue and is disregarded for purposes of determining the taxing unit’s property tax levy, property tax rate, and budget.

A county assessor shall quarterly send a notice (with the information required by the law) to the fiscal officer of each taxing unit affected by a property tax appeal, and each township assessor (if any) shall furnish to the county assessor all requested information necessary for purposes of providing the quarterly notices.

Authored as House Bill 1603 by Rep. Ben Smaltz; co-authored by Rep. John Price, Rep. David Ober and Rep. Cherrish Pryor; and sponsored by Sen. Randall Head, Sen. Douglas Eckerty and Sen. Lonnie Randolph. House Bill 1603 was signed into law as Public Law 244 by Governor Mike Pence on May 6, 2015.