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Click Public Policy Dispatch - Volume 14, Issue 5 to see as a webpage.

Dispatch-hdrstat
January 31, 2014
Volume 14
Issue 5

COUNTY FARM BUREAU VISITS TO THE STATEHOUSE   Visits to the Statehouse by Farm Bureau members are an important component to successful efforts by the Farm Bureau staff. County presidents, state legislative chairs or regional managers will schedule visits online. If you have any questions, please contact Zach Schmidt at 317-692-7855 or zschmidt@infarmbureau.org.

The following counties have scheduled visits to the Statehouse next week.
Monday, Feb. 3 – Hamilton and Pulaski.
Tuesday, Feb. 4 – Adams, Allen, Noble, Randolph, St. Joseph, Starke, Steuben and Wells.

Thank you to Clay, Floyd, Lake and Porter counties; District 1, 7 and 10 woman leaders for very successful visits this week.

STATE NEWS

SENATE PASSES SB 101 WITH OVERWHELMING SUPPORT   On Thursday, the Senate voted 41-5 to pass SB 101, the enhanced ag trespass bill. Enhancing the criminal trespass law has been a long-standing policy of Indiana Farm Bureau. Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville) will carry the bill in the House. SB 101 adds causing property damage to an agricultural operation to the existing crime of institutional criminal mischief. Indiana farmers will not be required to post “no trespassing” signs to protect the production areas of their farms. If a trespasser commits an intentional act that causes property damage, it could result in additional penalties, depending on the amount of damage caused. To get more involved and take action, please visit our website.  
 
PERSONAL PROPERTY PROPOSALS MOVE OUT OF SENATE AND HOUSE   SB 1, Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), moved out of the Senate on Thursday with a vote of 35-11. The House measure, HB 1001, authored by Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), passed the body by a vote of 63-33 on the same day. SB 1 exempts taxpayers with $25,000 or less in personal property from property tax. He indicated that 71 percent of personal property taxpayers would be exempted in this bill, which also lowers the corporate gross income tax. Indiana Farm Bureau supported the bill in committee as a starting point for discussions about a long term strategy to eliminate personal property tax. The bill includes a blue ribbon commission to study personal property tax and additional ways to eliminate it over time. HB 1001 provides for a local option by the county income tax council to allow the elimination of new personal property in their county. This bill provides a method for automatic abatement to all owners of business personal property and requires no application or approval process. Indiana Farm Bureau also supported HB 1001 as a measured first step in providing relief from personal property tax where the tax base is such that shifts would not be significant or where local officials want to create a more attractive tax climate for business development. It is clear that House and Senate leaders will be conferring over a final package. As reported last week, local officials continue to fight both the House and Senate proposals to eliminate portions of the personal property tax over concerns that they will be losing revenue, which primarily comes from circuit breaker loss.

PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC BARNS MOVES IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE   SB 293, authored by Sen. John Waterman (R-Sullivan), passed unanimously out of the Senate Tax and Fiscal committee this week. The bill creates a 100 percent deduction for barns built before 1950. Katrina Hall testified in favor of the bill, citing the urgency to preserve historic barns across the state. The bill would prevent restoration efforts from increasing a barn-owner’s property taxes. A slightly different bill moved through the House Ways and Means committee this week and will be on third reading on Monday. HB 1046, authored by Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield), provides the option for each county to incent preservation of historic mortise and tenon barns by providing a 100 percent deduction.
    
NO MOVEMENT ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM PROPOSALS   For those that are keeping score, bills filed on a single county executive for Allen County and consolidation of townships did not receive a hearing in the first half of the session. We will keep members posted if that changes.

BILLS TO ELIMINATE NEWSPAPER NOTICES OF LOCAL BUDGET HEARINGS MOVES IN HOUSE AND SENATE   HB 1266, authored by Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington), will be on third reading on Monday. One of the multi-faceted tax bills moving this session, HB 1266, includes a provision requested by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance that will eliminate any requirement that local government budget publications are run in newspapers prior to fiscal body consideration. Katrina Hall testified against this proposal stating that this may be the future, but rural areas have internet accessibility problems and posting the notice on the DLGF’s website is not sufficient. Concern was also expressed about immediate implementation since many website rollouts have problems. The DLGF assured lawmakers they would be ready. The bill calls for publication of ads in 2014 for 2015 budgets and 2015 for 2016 budgets indicating where information can be found. SB 367, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), also a tax catch-all, includes this language and testimony and DLGF responses were identical. Members are urged to discuss this with legislators at upcoming third House sessions.

EXCUSED ABSENCES FOR STUDENTS ATTENDING THE STATE FAIR PASSES BOTH HOUSE AND SENATE   SB 114, authored by Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), allowing up to three days of excused absence for students participating in the state fair passed out of the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 28-21. Opponents in the Senate have narrowed their objections to the way this bill provides an exemption in the same way that students are excused for working at the polls or being legislative pages. HB 1056, authored by Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield), which provides up to five days of excused absence for state fair participation, passed the House 93-0.
 
INDUSTRIAL HEMP BILL PASSES SECOND READING IN SENATE   SB 357, Industrial Hemp, authored by Sen. Richard Young (D-Milltown), passed second reading in the Senate. Amy Cornell testified in support of the bill in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing. IFB policy supports the legalization and the production of industrial hemp as renewable fiber energy for industrial uses only.

AGRICULTURAL POLICY AND FARMERS’ RIGHTS BILL   Many members have called with concerns about radio commercials that smear SB 186. SB 186 simply declares the state policy on agriculture and farmers’ rights. The bill states that the Indiana Code shall be construed to protect the rights of farmers to choose among all generally accepted farming and livestock production practices, including the use of ever changing technology.

Talking points for SB 186:

  • Farm Bureau strongly supports SB 186, a bill that strengthens and reaffirms Indiana’s vision for and commitment to agriculture.
  • Agriculture is vital to Indiana's economy. It represents $25 billion to the state economy.
  • Farmers need to be able to choose from all farming and husbandry practices to be successful in raising food, feed, fiber and fuel for this and future generations.
  • SB 186 does not trump existing laws. Breaking the law is not a generally accepted ag practice.
  • The General Assembly historically has demonstrated its support of agriculture. The bill simply voices the legislators’ support and clarifies their intent regarding interpretations of statutes.
  • Farmers are committed to growing the very best food for Hoosier families.
  • Farmers are proud of their tradition of hard work and dedication that puts safe and affordable food on the table.
  • Indiana Farm Bureau supports law that protects the rights of all farmers, regardless of size or commodity, to choose among generally accepted ag practices.

IFB THANKS REP. JUD MCMILLIN FOR WITHDRAWING REPEAL OF FENCE LAW IN HB 1005   Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) introduced a second reading amendment for HB 1005 that withdrew the repeal the fence law. The public policy team would like to thank Brad Ponsler and Kermit Paris for assisting with this effort.

HOUSE APPROVES MEASURE TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY IN PERMITTING   The House approved HB 1217, Rep. Steve Davisson (R-Salem) and Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston), which requires DNR and IDEM to create and implement a process to ensure that individuals who are required to obtain a permit from both IDEM and DNR prior to work within a wetland, floodway, river or stream only have to file one application. The measure, which is meant to improve transparency and efficiency in government, passed by a vote of 92-0. Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) has been added as the sponsor in the Senate. Adoption of similar legislation has been a goal of Indiana Farm Bureau for several years.

CHILD LABOR BILL PASSES COMMITTEE   The House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee passed HB 1083, Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel). Farm Bureau thanks Rep. Torr for offering an amendment at Farm Bureau’s request which would put the federal exemptions related to children working on a farm owned or operated by the parent into state law. The bill will be heard on third reading on Feb. 3.

CHANGES TO DNR CLAIMS FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE LOSSES   Following extensive discussions between Farm Bureau and DNR, an amendment was offered and passed in HB 1307, Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville), which changes the process used by DNR to collect from responsible parties for losses of fish and wildlife. Current law requires DNR to make a demand for payment, which if not paid, is then turned over to the attorney general who files a lawsuit against the alleged responsible party. If adopted, the bill will establish an administrative procedure for DNR and the responsible party to negotiate with respect to liability and damages. Farm Bureau’s Megan Ritter testified in support of the amendment. The bill will be heard on third reading on Feb. 3.

LEVEE BILL ADVANCES IN HOUSE   Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) has authored a bill which makes a small but significant change in the law authorizing levee associations and districts. The original law was repealed, but the levee associations were allowed to continue operating without being subject to current laws. The repeal of those laws has created challenges in operating those levees and made it impossible to update the laws as needed. HB 1053 would make those levee associations and districts subject to current state laws. Farm Bureau supports the efforts to clarify the laws regarding levees and continues to discuss the issue with the members of the Water Resources Policy Advisory Group and in the policy development process.

BILL LOOKS TO CLEAN-UP CFO AND COMPOSTING STATUTES SB 359   Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) makes changes to the CFO statute to remove conditions which have led to confusion in implementing the state CFO regulations. The bill removes the requirement that construction of a CFO begin within two years and be completed within four years of the approval being issued. Rather, construction will be allowed for the duration of the five year approval. The bill also removes the independent statutory requirement to submit a manure management plan, since the plan is now part of the approval under the CFO regulations. The bill also expands the composting regulations to allow organic material, other than just vegetative matter, to be composted without a solid waste processing permit. The bill will be heard on third reading on Feb. 3.

HUNTING PRESERVE BILL CLEARS HURDLE IN SENATE COMMITTEE   The Senate Ag and Natural Resources Committee heard SB 404, Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury), which authorizes DNR to issue permits to hunting preserves for deer and elk. Similar bills have previously passed the House, but this is the first bill to move in the Senate. Concerns over the legality of hunting preserves began when DNR adopted a rule to ban them after several landowners had previously started their operations after being told they were legal. A state trial court recently ruled that DNR did not have authority to regulate the hunting of the deer and elk because they are not wildlife but farm raised and privately owned. Farm Bureau supported the measure noting that the ban would negatively impact the four remaining hunting preserves and the nearly 400 deer and elk farms in Indiana. Farm Bureau’s Justin Schneider testified in support of the measure and noted that Farm Bureau policy does support regulation of the hunting preserves. The bill will likely undergo extensive amendments.

OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST THAT HAVE PASSED THROUGH ONE CHAMBER
HB 1143, Rep. David Wolkins (R-Warsaw) prohibits the environmental rules board from adopting standards more stringent than corresponding federal regulation.

HB 1241, Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne), makes changes to interpretation of pollution exclusion language in insurance policies.

HB 1300, Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston), dairy law clean-up bill.

HB 1350, Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle), seed test must be completed within 12 month period before distribution. Current law requires test to be performed within nine months of distribution.

SB 107, Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), transfer of sewage regulatory system from Indiana State Department of Health to IDEM.

SB 339, Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), allow the sale of alcoholic beverage at the state fairgrounds during the Indiana State Fair. 

FEDERAL NEWS

FIVE YEAR FARM BILL PASSES HOUSE, NOW HEADS TO SENATE   After months of negotiations by House and Senate conferees, the House of Representatives approved the five-year farm bill, H.R. 2642, on Jan. 29 by a margin of 251-166. The nearly $1 trillion bill will now go to the Senate for consideration and a vote, which has been scheduled for the afternoon of Feb. 4.

Indiana Farm Bureau, working with other states and AFBF, will now focus its attention on the Senate. Members are encouraged to contact Sen. Dan Coats (R) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) to express their support and ask them to vote for the farm bill. To get more involved and take action, please visit our website.

CONGRESSWOMAN WALORSKI VISITS WITH LOCAL FARMERS ABOUT PROPOSED REYNOLDS/TOPEKA TRANSMISSION LINE   Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-District 2) recently met with a group of farmers and Farm Bureau members in Marshall and Kosciusko counties regarding the proposed Reynolds/Topeka Transmission Line being developed by the utility NIPSCO. Hosting the farm tours were Floyd and Charlie Houin (Marshall) and Kip Tom (Kosciusko), with additional participation by approximately 15 other area farmers who will be impacted by the proposed transmission line. 

PROPANE CRISIS GARNERS NATIONAL ATTENTION   The current propane crisis sweeping across the Midwest and South has resulted in several state declarations of emergency, including Indiana. However, the issue is also receiving significant national attention from the USDA, DOE, and Congress. U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wi.) is asking President Obama to direct the federal government to address the current propane crisis.

Kind would like to see the Department of Energy explore a strategic propane reserve. Kind also believes that the export subsidies for the energy companies should be reduced or removed and that there will be a debate over the export of the increased oil and gas production here in the U.S.

FARM BUREAU JOINS FIGHT AGAINST EPA’S GHG REGULATIONS   This week Farm Bureau joined other stakeholders representing nearly every sector of the U.S. economy to announce a new coalition to respond to the Obama Administration’s greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory agenda. The Partnership for a Better Energy Future represents nearly every sector of the U.S. economy, unified in support for responsible energy regulations. In addition, the partnership will work to educate the general public and local, state and national policymakers on the impact poorly crafted GHG regulations will have on the availability of affordable and reliable energy.

OSHA PROPOSES REGULATION TO MAKE EMPLOYER INJURY AND ILLNESS RECORDS PUBLICLY AVAILABLE   On Nov. 8, 2013, OSHA proposed three new rules that would require employers to submit injury and illness information to OSHA that will be made publicly available. This regulation makes information not currently publicly accessible widely available, which could impact prospective employees and customer choices. It specifically targets agriculture and will be costly and burdensome to all employers. Farm Bureau opposes the proposal and will be submitting comments. Comments are due Feb. 6, 2014.

IMMIGRATION REFORM SET TO TAKE CENTER STAGE   After being highlighted as a priority during the President’s State of the Union Address, and with the release of the GOP Conference’s Principles for Immigration Reform, the issue is set to take center stage once again. Immigration reform that works for all sectors of agriculture, and across all regions of our nation is a top priority for American Farm Bureau Federation. 

There is a window of opportunity in the House to move immigration reform in 2014. To educate and advocate for agricultural labor reform, Farm Bureau has partnered with Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE) in the #IFarmImmigration campaign. See more information PNAE.

Members with an interest in getting involved in the #IvoteImmigration campaign and hosting an event or farm tour may contact Kyle Cline, National Policy Advisor, (317) 692-7845 or kcline@infarmbureau.org.  

 


 

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