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Airbnb Bill Passes House On Second Attempt

Feb 14, 2017

Lawmakers approved the so-called “Airbnb bill,” which bars local governments from banning short-term rentals, on its second attempt at passage in the House.

Some Indiana communities have sought to ban residents from renting out their homes, like through the website Airbnb. Rep. Matt Lehman’s (R-Berne) bill would prevent that, with some guidelines: for instance, people couldn’t rent out their homes for more than 180 days total in a year.

Carissa Rogers / https://www.flickr.com/photos/goodncrazy/5531939741

The Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission is slated to vote Wednesday on a significantly scaled-back proposal to regulate short-term home rentals, such as those offered on websites including Airbnb.

The original proposal would have restricted the number of days a property could be rented, regardless of whether the owner lives in the residence.

Senator Proposes Bill To Expand Welfare Eligibility

Feb 13, 2017

 

A state senator wants to expand the number of people who are eligible for welfare.

To be eligible for money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, sometimes known as welfare, Indiana families can earn, at most, nearly $600 a month.

That dollar amount was set 20 years ago and was, at the time, about 50 percent of the federal poverty level. But it hasn’t been raised since, meaning that Hoosier families can now only earn about 35 percent of the federal poverty level.

Freeze On Travel Ban Brings Uneasy Hope For Those Affected

Feb 10, 2017

 

For Suzanne Kawamleh, it’s been a rollercoaster of a few weeks.

“I am Syrian-American. My family are refugees, it’s not something to be proud of and its not something I would ever wish on anybody,” Kawamleh says. “But it’s the truth.”

A federal appeals panel unanimously ruled Thursday to reject President Donald Trump’s bid to reinstate his immigration and travel ban. The ruling allows refugees and immigrants from seven countries to continue to travel to the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is declaring a disaster in a lead-contaminated neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana. The order, announced Thursday, fulfills a request that former Gov. Mike Pence denied before he left office.

In the declaration, Holcomb says he’ll ask for federal assistance to relocate residents still living in the affected area. And those families say they need all the assistance they can get.

The 30-day emergency declaration spans the city’s 322-acre Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, which includes the Calumet neighborhood and around 3,000 residents.

House Votes To Override Pence Vetoes

Feb 9, 2017

 

The House voted to overrule Mike Pence’s last vetoes as governor.

Lawmakers last session approved a bill to delay any new state environmental regulations that are stricter than federal rules, except in emergencies. Pence vetoed that measure last year.

But now, House lawmakers voted 65 to 29 to override that veto.

 

House Republicans made a change to their road funding bill that would open a $600 million hole in the next state budget.

The House GOP roads plan, as introduced, would gradually shift all sales tax on fuel dollars from the General Fund to road funding over the next few years.

House Ways and Means chair, Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), offered an amendment, approved by his committee, to make that shift immediate.

 

A new study from Purdue University on the effects of the state’s new method for taxing farmland shows what rural areas will take the biggest hit from the change.

Indiana taxes farmland mainly on the value of crops the soil can produce. But that calculation has lagged behind the current crop market.

It based farmland property assessments on 4-year-old crop prices, meaning taxes climbed even as farm revenues began to decline.

 

A panel of judges have decided to continue the suspension of President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration after a hearing on Feb. 8. On Feb. 3, a federal judge halted the travel restrictions to seven countries.

Trump responded to the news by tweeting, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

In the meantime, Indiana towns with large immigrant populations are already grappling with its impacts.

City of West Lafayette

In his state of the city speech Monday night, West Lafayette mayor John Dennis said the city sets a standard for quality of life.

He then reminded the council that in the face of a new presidential administration, the city’s philosophy of inclusion should be upheld.

Dennis says the city’s residents celebrate diversity. He says the best demonstration of that local feeling came with the recent women’s rally in downtown Lafayette, in which he participated.

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