The remonstrance-petition process is unique to Indiana. The process is governed by Indiana Code 6-1.1-20, which is still in effect although it has been ruled unconstitutional because only property owners are allowed to sign petitions. Between 1995-2007, there were 94 petition-remonstrance drives. In 45 (48 percent) the opponents stopped the project; in 49 (52 percent), the proponents won.
Under the code, a school board must give notice in the newspapers that those wishing to file remonstrances (blue) against and petitions (yellow) for a proposed capital project must do so no sooner than 30 days or later than 60 days from the date the notice is published. That provides thirty days to collect signatures.
The steps in the process are:
- Property owners pick up as many petitions as they need. The carrier of a petition must be a property owner within the district, must sign at least one of the petitions and has to swear before a notary that he/she witnessed each signature.
- The auditor certifies the petitions and files them with the school board within 15 to 60 days depending on the number of signatures.
- If the project is defeated, school board has to wait one year before proposing a substantially different project.
- If the project is not defeated, the school board must still receive approval from the department of local government finance.
Opponents of a school tax hike or capital project in Indiana are called "remonstrators."
Rules governing the process
- If the subdivision makes petitions available on its premises (like school buildings), it must also make remonstrances available.
- The subdivision may not use its facilities or equipment to promote its position unless it gives equal access to opponents.
- The subdivision may not use its funds to promote the project.
- Attorneys, architects, construction managers of financial advisors may not spend money to promote the project.