CHICAGO - Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would restrict bond proposals to general elections in an effort to boost voter participation.
Introduced by state Rep. David Frizzell, R-Indianapolis, House Bill 1027 would require that bond or school tax levy proposals that are more than $12 million for a local issuer or $10 million for a school district be held only during general elections.
Currently a proposal can be put on the ballot during a general, municipal, primary or even a special election, if the local government pays for it.
The House Elections Committee held a hearing last week and heard testimony that was largely opposed to the measure.
Opponents, mostly local government advocates, said the move could increase borrowing costs because issuers would not be able to head market quickly to take advantage of low interest rates. They also said the two-year delay between referendum cycles could be "disastrous" for some general fund issues, according to notes of the committee meeting.
Groups representing school districts, cities, towns, and counties all testified against the bill. If passed, it would take effect after June 30, 2105.
A fiscal note from the House Legislative Agency attached to the bill said it would likely mean delays for many projects, which could drive up borrowing and construction costs.
Frizzell reportedly said he would work with the municipal associations to try to reach compromise language.
Indiana in 2008 enacted a property tax overhaul that required local governments to win voter approval for all major capital projects and included other borrowing restrictions. The heart of the law was a hard cap on property taxes.