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Click Public Policy Dispatch - Volume 13, Issue 14 to view this as a web page.

March 8, 2013
Volume 13
Issue 14
Thanks to Benton, Clark, Floyd, Franklin, Harrison, Henry, Jennings and Marion County Farm Bureaus and the Elkhart County Young Farmers for visiting the Statehouse this week.
The following Statehouse visits are scheduled for next week:
Tuesday, March 12 – Decatur, LaGrange, Ripley, Rush and Vigo counties.
Wednesday, March 13 – Allen and Wayne counties.
Thursday, March 14 – Bartholomew and Tippecanoe counties.                    

The second half of 2013 legislative session got off to a slow start this week as committee chairs began to review the bills that originated in the other house and are now assigned to their committees. A few hearings were held this week, including the Senate’s first look at the budget for the 2013-2015 biennium that was passed by the House before it adjourned last week.

INDIANA’S FAMILY OF FARMERS CELEBRATES AG DAY IN STATEHOUSE   On Tuesday Indiana’s Family of Farmers, a coalition of agriculture organizations in the state, held a special Ag Day for legislators and staff to emphasize the importance of Indiana agriculture. Food for the lunchtime reception was provided by four Indianapolis food trucks. Among the event’s highlights were an unexpected visit from Gov. Mike Pence, who briefly acknowledged the importance of ag in Indiana; the presentation of baskets of Indiana agricultural items to Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, Department of Agriculture Director Gina Sheets, House ag committee chairman Don Lehe (R-Brookston) and Senate ag committee chairman Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury). Cameron Mann, Indiana FFA President, read the official proclamation declaring March as Indiana Agriculture Appreciation Month.

SENATE BEGINS ITS CONSIDERATION OF BIENNIAL BUDGET   House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) presented the House-passed version of the state budget for the 2013-2015 biennium to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Among the provisions of the House version of the budget are about $300 million new dollars for K-12 in the biennium and about $250 million new money for state highways and local roads. Part of the money to be appropriated for highways and roads will come from redirecting that part of the state gas tax revenues that has been allocated to the State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Those agencies would be completely funded by general fund appropriations under the House version of the budget. Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) and his colleagues will prepare the Senate’s version of the budget for consideration by the whole Senate. The final version of the budget will be crafted in a conference committee during the last few days of the session after the state’s April revenue forecast is released.

Each community will fare differently under the formulas for distributing the education and highway funds. Ask your state legislators how your county and your local school corporations will come out under the House budget proposal.

VIDEOTAPING BILL AWAITS ASSIGNMENT IN HOUSE   The bill to make illegal photographing, videotaping or otherwise recording an agricultural or industrial operation without the owner’s consent continues to attract a great deal of attention. SB 373 (Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy) has been criticized by animal rights advocates who have urged House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) to not assign it to a committee. These groups have enlisted the support of out-of-state “celebrities” to advocate on their behalf and have incorporated those celebrities into a media effort. This week The Indianapolis Star reported that Bosma had received letters from Tony Kanal, a member of the Anaheim, Calif.-based rock band No Doubt and Bob Barker, the former host of the TV show “The Price is Right,” who also lives in California.

Farm Bureau President Don Villwock and the leaders of other business and agricultural organizations in Indiana have written to the speaker urging him to assign the bill to a committee so that members of the House can consider it on its merits. In his letter, Villwock points out that the bill specifically provides that anyone who suspects an animal is being mistreated may document it with a recording but must deliver that evidence to appropriate law enforcement authorities within 48 hours. This timeframe allows necessary corrective action to be taken in a timely manner. Villwock maintains this provision “should be welcomed by anyone who is genuinely concerned about stopping animal cruelty.”

SENATE PANEL CONSIDERS TRANSPORTATION BILLS   Among the committees that did meet this week was the Senate Homeland Security, Transportation & Veteran’s Affairs Committee. The committee heard and approved HB 1068 (Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, and Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport), a bill that will change Indiana law regarding the requirements for some agricultural transportation situations to make the law in Indiana consistent with changes in the federal law that were enacted by Congress last summer. If HB 1068 is enacted into law, the drivers of farm trucks during the planting and harvesting seasons will be exempt from the federal hours of service requirements if they do not travel more than 150 air miles to or from the source of the ag commodity or supply. The proposed law would also exempt the drivers of covered farm vehicles from most of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations. Farm Bureau’s Bob Kraft testified in support of the bill before the committee.

The committee also heard HB 1067 (Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, and Senate Committee Chair Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne) which will establish a program to allow a county or municipality that receives funds from the Federal Surface Transportation Program to exchange the federal funds for an equal amount of state funds. This program will allow the local unit and INDOT to exchange funds. This will provide the local unit more flexibility and reduce the federal paperwork burden by allowing INDOT to concentrate the expenditure of federal funds on fewer, larger projects. Farm Bureau’s Bob Kraft testified in support of the bill. No vote was taken on the bill this week.

Another bill approved by the committee was HB 1069 (Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, and Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis). This bill will permanently enact some temporary authorizations given to the state Fire Prevention & Building Safety Commission to adopt rules to regulate as a Class 1 structure outdoor event equipment used in connection with an outdoor performance. The temporary measures were enacted in the wake of the tragedy involving the collapse of the grandstand at the 2011 Indiana State Fair.

INTERNET SALES TAX BILLS MOVING IN DC AND INDY   Two federal bills, S. 366 (Marketplace Fairness Act) and the House companion legislation H.R. 684 (Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013), both promote fair competition between local retailers and Internet-only sellers by allowing states to apply sales tax laws across the board. Both bills allow states to enforce their existing sales tax laws without creating new taxes or increasing existing ones. States must adopt the Streamlined Sales & Use Tax Agreement or alternative simplification requirements in order to be able to collect sales taxes on remote retailers.

In Indiana, the state is deprived of revenue and local businesses are placed at a 7% price disadvantage if an online retailer does not have to collect sales tax. Indiana Farm Bureau was a leader in changing AFBF policy to put large Internet retailers on a level playing field with local businesses that employ local people and pay property taxes besides collecting and remitting sales taxes that support state services.

These bills do provide a small seller exemption so that remote sellers with less than $1 million in annual sales do not have to collect sales taxes. It also says that remote sellers must be provided software for collecting the tax to ease the administrative burden.

Please let your members of Congress know that you support S. 336 (Marketplace Fairness Act) and H.R. 684 (Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013).

Meanwhile, the Indiana House has adopted HB 1010 (authored by Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, and sponsored by Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen) which would change the date on which online retailers with a physical presence in Indiana must begin collecting sales tax from Jan. 1, 2014, to July 1, 2013.

U.S. HOUSE PASSES CONTINUING RESOLUTION   The House passed H.R. 933, a “continuing resolution” or “CR,” to prevent a government shutdown and continue government operations until the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30. The CR extends funding for all government agencies at last year’s levels, except for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs which have actual full-year appropriations bills incorporated in the overall bill. The funding levels in the CR incorporate the sequestration cuts. These cuts lower the total funding levels from $1.043 trillion to $982 billion.

In another provision of importance to agriculture, the CR includes an additional $570 million for the Forest Service and Department of Interior to address wildfires this summer.

The deadline for Senate action to prevent a government shutdown is March 27.

FARM BUREAU’S SECOND HALF TALKING POINTS AVAILABLE   Indiana Farm Bureau has revised the talking points that are provided to members to help jumpstart conversations with legislators during Statehouse visits, third-house meetings or casual encounters. The new talking points will be distributed on bright yellow cards to Farm Bureau members visiting the Statehouse. If you still have a blue card identifying 2013 talking points please use the points below instead.


  • Thank you for supporting SB 319, the bill that will delay using the new soil productivity factors for another year.
  • The supplemental homestead deduction should be eliminated because it gives relief to those who use tax-funded services and raises other’s taxes.
  • Internet purchases by Hoosiers should be subject to sales tax.
  • Farm inputs, such as drainage tile and tiling equipment, should be exempt from sales tax.


  • Local road funding must be a priority in the state budget.
  • All gas tax proceeds should go to roads, not to state police and BMV.
  • Non-property tax sources of revenue must be authorized to make much-needed maintenance and repair to local roads.


  • House members – Please support SB 373, the bill that makes it illegal to record farm or industrial operations with intent to harm the operation without the property owner’s consent. The bill has an exception for reporting suspected illegal activity to appropriate enforcement authorities.


  • All budgets should be approved by an elected body.
  • Township government should be retained because it is more responsive to rural citizens.
  • City-rural mergers should require separate approval of voters inside and outside of city limits.
  • County commissioners and councils should be retained in their present form.
  • Municipalities should not have jurisdiction outside their boundaries.


  • Indiana needs a comprehensive water plan but the data collection authorized in 2012 should be completed before new rules are imposed on water usage.

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