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Click Public Policy Dispatch - Volume 13, Issue 19 to see as a webpage.

April 12, 2013
Volume 13
Issue 19
Thanks to Jefferson County Farm Bureau for visiting the Statehouse this week.
There are no other counties scheduled to make Statehouse visits this session, but opportunities are still available to individuals or counties that would still consider planning a Statehouse visit through the end of the legislative session.  

This week the General Assembly wrapped up its committee work and, for the most part, completed its consideration of bills that were introduced in the other House. The House of Representatives still has 22 Senate bills to consider on Monday. Among the bills still awaiting House action are SB 91 (motorsports investment districts), SB 373 (trespass and job application fraud), SB 487 (shooting and hunting preserves), and SB 510 (substitute natural gas contracts). During the final couple weeks of the session, the Farm Bureau lobbying staff will be following action in conference committees as the two houses work to reconcile the differences between the versions of the bill that have passed their respective houses. 

VIDEOTAPING BILL BECOMES TRESPASS BILL   After SB 373 (Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and Bill Friend, R-Macy) was amended and reported favorably by the House Agriculture Committee, it was recommitted to the House Judiciary Committee. That committee rewrote the bill so that it now includes in the definition of criminal trespass the act of entering an area to which access has been denied by a fence, wall or other constructed barrier that reasonably implies entry is prohibited. The bill also makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally make a false statement or conceal a material fact in order to secure employment. The bill is no longer limited to agricultural and industrial locations nor does it include any reference whatsoever to recording, photographing or videotaping. With the changes made to the bill, most of the groups that were earlier opposed to it feel it no longer raises freedom-of-the-press issues and have dropped their opposition. The only remaining opposition to the bill is that of organized labor which opposes the language making it illegal to falsify information on a job application. The bill was not amended on the floor of the House on second reading and will be among those considered by the House on Monday.

SENATE PASSES ITS VERSION OF THE BUDGET   The Senate approved its version of HB 1001, the budget for the 2013-2015 biennium, on Tuesday by a vote of 38-12. Joining the Senate’s 38 Republicans in supporting the budget was Democrat Jim Arnold of LaPorte. The budget bill – which must originate in the House – lists House Ways & Means Committee Chair Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) as author and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) as its Senate sponsor. While the Senate and House versions of the budget do differ in some significant ways, there is general agreement among legislators that the two houses will agree upon a compromise in time for the statutory adjournment date of April 29.

The Republicans, who hold a 37-13 majority in the Senate, easily defeated a number of amendments advanced by Democrats when the bill was placed on second reading on Monday.

The Senate budget would eliminate the state’s inheritance tax and includes a $150 million income tax cut. The income tax cut is significantly less than the $500 million requested by Gov. Mike Pence in his budget proposal. The House version contained no income tax cut at all.

The Senate-passed budget would require a county to adopt the county motor vehicle excise surtax and the county wheel taxes as a condition of receiving its full distribution of local road and street funding included in the budget. Since it is likely that this provision will remain in the final budget, county councils should immediately begin to evaluate whether or not they should adopt these local taxes. County Farm Bureaus are encouraged to initiate a discussion with their local officials so that if the county loses this money it will be because – after a thorough evaluation of the circumstances – the council chose not to adopt the taxes, not because they failed to consider the prerequisites included in the state budget.

HOUSE TO CONSIDER MOVING HORSE FUNDING TO MOTORSPORTS   This week the House Ways & Means Committee amended a comprehensive gaming bill so that it would now redirect some of the money currently going to the state’s equine industry to the motorsports industry. SB 91 (Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, and Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville) was amended to provide $10 million a year that the state’s horse racing industry currently receives from slot machine revenues at the state’s racinos be redirected to a newly established Indiana Motorsports Commission (IMC). The money would then be used to improve and upgrade the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other motorsports facilities across the state. Currently, about $57 million in annual slot revenue now goes to the state’s thoroughbred, standardbred and quarter horse industries to supplement race purses and encourage Indiana breeding. The bill is among those to be considered by the full House on Monday.

BOAH ADOPTS RULE FOR DEER AND ELK FARMS   The Board of Animal Health has revised its rules for disease prevention in farm-raised deer and elk. The revised rule brings Indiana in compliance with a new federal rule and maintains several provisions which were already more stringent than federal law requires. The focus of the rule is ensuring that chronic wasting disease is not transmitted between wild and domestic animals, and it includes provisions for a certification program. Farm Bureau’s Justin Schneider submitted written comments clarifying that the rule was consistent with Farm Bureau policy. Greg Slipher offered testimony in favor of the proposed rule at the hearing.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT DEED COPIES   Indiana’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed suit in Allen County against an outfit that is offering certified copies of deeds for $60 each. Deeds are public records and copies may be obtained from county recorders for a nominal fee, usually about $1 a page. Zoeller said that, “The solicitations mimic government legal documents which mislead consumers into believing they need a copy of their property deed.” In the lawsuit, the state alleges the company violated the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and the Deceptive Commercial Solicitation Act. Zoeller’s office seeks an injunction, consumer restitution, civil penalties and investigative costs.

CHECK YOUR HOMESTEAD DEDUCTION   County auditors are about to send out property tax bills and if you didn't send in your pink homestead verification form for the homestead tax credit deduction by last January 1, you may not remain eligible for the deduction. This could result in your property tax bill jumping significantly. If you are not sure you have filed for your exemption, check with your county auditor immediately.

FARM BILL   This week, Farm Bureau sent its farm bill proposal to the Hill. President Villwock, Randy Kron and Megan Ritter met with Sen. Joe Donnelly to discuss the proposal and the priorities for Indiana farmers. Other members also had an opportunity to share their thoughts in various meetings as well. County Farm Bureaus were sent a briefing on the proposal that saves $23 billion over the cost of continuing the current program. The core principles Farm Bureau used to draft the proposal remain committed to a farm policy that provides a strong and effective safety net and viable risk management programs for farmers, programs that do not guarantee a profit but, instead, protect farmers from catastrophic occurrences. We also want to ensure that the terms of our farm programs do not affect a farmer’s decision of which crop to plant. The program must comply with our World Trade Organization agreements.

Interview with American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Stallman

Press Release from AFBF

Full AFBF Farm Bill Policy Brief

FEDERAL TAX REFORM   Discussion on Capitol Hill has turned to tax reform. Farm Bureau wants individual tax code reform to be simple, transparent, revenue-neutral and fair to farmers.

Farm Bureau is involved in the discussion and watching critically the discussion around federal income tax and corporate tax reform as well as cash accounting, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and Sec. 179 small business expensing. While broadening the base and lowering rates is important to any tax reform effort, a lower income tax rate may not adequately compensate farmers if they lose too many tax deductions. Farm Bureau recommends that farmers and ranchers be allowed to apply the tax benefits of unclaimable deductions and credits to previous and/or future tax years.




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