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Lawmakers vote to restrict local Airbnb bans

February 14, 2017

A bill that would restrict local governments from banning short-term home rentals through services such as Airbnb passed the House on a 53-40 vote Tuesday and now moves to the Senate.

The vote was a second chance for the legislation. On Feb. 6, the House voted 49-44 in favor of the legislation, but a bill needs 51 votes—a constitutional majority of the chamber’s 100 members—to pass. However, because fewer than 51 members voted no, the bill was eligible to be reconsidered.

Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, voted against the bill the first time but in favor of it Tuesday. She said she changed her mind after doing more local research in Speedway and west Indianapolis in her district.

“With so many great things happening in the town of Speedway, I was just very concerned that this may affect us,” Macer said. “Originally when I voted no on the legislation, I just didn’t have enough information.”

Macer said that because Speedway has so much tourism—but no hotels to host its visitors—she wanted to make sure that she understood how the legislation would affect the town.

The bill comes on the heels of Carmel's recent decision to send letters to 28 residents who rent out their homes on Airbnb, stating that they are in violation of city zoning laws. The letter demanded the owners cease operations within 10 days or file a request for a zoning variance.

Opponents of the bill say local municipalities should have the authority to enforce zoning laws or create bans if that’s what their communities want.

Rep. Gerald Torr, R- Carmel, said he also doesn’t think there’s any rush to pass the legislation this year and that the bill may be a little ahead of its time.

“As far as I know, there’s no community in Indiana that has recently passed any kind of ban on short-term rentals,” Torr said.

He also said that every community is different and that locally elected officials can figure out what to do in their specific communities.

“I think it’s a local issue. It should be left to locals to figure out what’s right for their neighborhood and to not be blocked by a statewide resolution,” Torr said.

Another opponent of the bill, Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, said she changed her yes vote to a no because she believes residents should go to their local governments to seek changes in ordinances or rules, rather than turning to the state.

“It’s local control, local issues,” she said.

Katie Stancombe is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

 

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