Fate of short-term rentals bill up in air after more changes

Changes made to a short-term rentals bill earlier in the week were erased in the Senate on Wednesday.

House Bill 1133, which would prevent local governments from banning Airbnb-style businesses, was amended to require short-term rental hosts to obtain and pay for a permit in order to operate their businesses.

Now, those changes have been removed.

Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, who originally proposed that change, took back his amendment, and instead asked the Senate to return the bill to a version passed by a Senate committee.

The Local Government Committee made few changes to HB 1133, which would ban municipalities from prohibiting or regulating Airbnb-style, short-term rentals from their communities.

The proposed legislation has raised questions as to who should exercise control over new rental platforms—local municipalities or the larger state government.

Head said this would help move the bill to a conference committee, where legislators from both chambers meet and decide on a version of the bill acceptable to members of the House and Senate.

“Rep. Lehman has committed to a conference committee if we pass something out of here,” Head said in reference to the bill.

He also said he thinks sending the bill to conference committee will help to garner more votes.

However, Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, proposed an amendment to send the entire issue to a summer study committee, saying the bill was a mess.

“This amendment, as I see it right now, returns the bill to the original form that it came over here with,” Tallian said. “Which means that the bill allows no regulation by any local governments of these properties. There’s no registry, there’s no registration fee, there’s no way to really regulate these.”

But Head said he thought his changes would be a better vehicle to move the bill forward.

“This bill, the way it is now, does a terrible thing to the integrity of Indiana zoning laws,” Tallian said. “And I truly believe that the way it is right now, there are so many unaddressed questions that we simply can’t pass this bill.”

Tallian reminded her colleagues that the bill barely cleared the House, which passed the legislation 53-40.

The bill will be heard in the Senate for the last time Thursday.

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