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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Indiana House falls just short of passing pro-Airbnb bill

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 05:53 pm

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana House narrowly failed to pass a proposal Wednesday that would have banned local governments from regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb, likely imperiling the measure for the session.

Rep. Matt Lehman's bill was an attempt to navigate regulations on short-term rentals amid a changing market, which he says would protect the private property rights of citizens. It faced opposition from both sides of the aisle, though, with critics saying it would have usurped local control of Indiana's cities and towns.

The House voted 50-46 in favor of the measure, but it needed 51 votes to pass. House Speaker Brian Bosma opted not to vote.

"I'm honestly torn on it, between local control and the new economy emerging. This bill does not have my full confidence," the Indianapolis Republican later explained.

The vote doesn't guarantee the measure is dead for the session, but it seems likely, as there are just two more business days before the Legislature hopes to adjourn and there is significant disagreement over the issue.

After the vote, Lehman declined to say definitively whether he would bring the measure back this session. The Berne Republican wrote in a statement that he is "reviewing the bill and taking a moment to look at all the options that are on the table."

As the emerging "short-term rental" market has grown nationwide, so too have cities' restrictions, including in New Orleans, Chicago, New York and several in Indiana.

If passed, Lehman's bill would have barred local governments from enacting ordinances that prohibit or regulate short-term rentals, except to protect the public's health and safety. It would have allowed local authorities to continue to address problem renters through building or noise ordinances, among other things, but it would have required that the enforcement of those regulations be equal across properties.

Those who opposed the measure say local governments are best suited to regulate their own communities and know how best to address the market for their constituents.

"There's nothing wrong with Airbnb and short-term rentals," said Rep. Jerry Torr, a Republican from Carmel. "The question is really two-fold: Where is it appropriate and where isn't it? And who's in the best position, in terms of local government, to determine that for a local community?"

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Find House Bill 1133 online at https://iga.in.gov/

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Follow Darcy Costello on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dctello .

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