Lawmakers considered several bills Tuesday that impact homeowners, from property taxes to protesting at a private residence and regulations on short-term rentals.

The “residential harassment” bill was the most controversial, passing by a vote of 29-16 in the Indiana Senate.

Protesters seeking to picket outside of someone’s home could face a Class C misdemeanor under the bill, which creates a new crime.

Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, said professional protesters have learned to circumvent existing laws elsewhere, even endangering the safety of some public officials.

“I’m just trying to protect the sanctity of one’s home,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin’s bill faced bipartisan opposition, most vocally from fellow Republican Sen. Mike Young, of Indianapolis. He said he believed he should be able to protest against his own officials, including District Attorney Ryan Mears who publicly said his office would no longer pursue charges for minor marijuana possession.

“I think I should have the right to … tell him, in a nice way, ‘I think you stink at your job,’” Young said. “I don’t think it’s right to keep protesters away from the people they elected.”

He said he doesn’t think it’s right to keep protesters away from elected officials: “It just doesn’t sound American.”

Young was one of the seven Republicans joining with the chamber’s nine Democrats to votes against the measure.

The Senate also passed a bill to study renter and landlord conditions in Indiana despite some resistance from some, with nine GOP senators voting against the bill and 37 voting ‘yes.’

Previously the bill created a series of renter protections, drawing heavily from the experiences of several Indianapolis renters whose out-of-state owners didn’t pay utility bills to the detriment of their tenants. After a committee amendment, it sends the issue of renter protections to a study committee.

“While the outcome isn’t what I hoped for… it keeps it alive,” bill author Sen. Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, said.

Homeowners could see a little property tax relief in the coming years under a House proposal.

Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, said property taxes will increase by an average of 18% across the state when bills due in May are released, much higher than in a typical year.

“This prepares us for the storm — that 18% increase in homeowners’ property taxes. This bill tries to do some things to help mitigate that,” Thompson said. “This is a work in progress, and there’s a lot of moving parts … but with this, I feel best for homeowners and all taxpayers.”

Thompson’s bill would create a temporary property tax cap starting in 2024 and returning to normal in 2026. With tax bills arriving in just a few weeks, it’s too late for legislators to provide homeowners relief in this calendar year. Additionally, it would limit local levy growth and increase the renter’s deduction from $3,000 to $4,000.

The bill passed 94-1, with Rep. Jennifer Meltzer, R-Shelbyville voting against the measure.

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