Rep. Torr: House Democrats Short-Change Hoosier Taxpayers

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 7:00 pm

Start Date:  4/14/2009  All Day  
End Date:  4/14/2009    
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STATEHOUSE - House Democrats broke House rules to avoid voting on permanent property tax relief Tuesday evening, said Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel).

As time was running down Tuesday evening for the House of Representatives to vote on permanent property tax caps, Rep. Bill Davis (R-Portland) offered a motion that would have brought Senate Joint Resolution 1 to the House floor.

Rather than allowing a vote on SJR 1, House Democrats immediately adjourned for the night.

The House Republicans' Caps Clock showed about 1 day, 5 hours and 45 minutes left until the third-reading deadline when Rep. Davis presented House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer with a motion to suspend House rules for the purpose of voting on SJR 1.

Speaker Bauer allowed House Republican Leader Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) to speak on the motion.

"Rep. Davis has filed a motion pursuant to Rule 8 to suspend House Rule 85 immediately for a single purpose and that's for voting on SJR 1," Rep. Bosma said.

House Rule 8 allows the House to suspend the rules, and such a motion takes precedence over all other business.

As Rep. Bosma went on to explain the rule and the motion, Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) moved that the House adjourn. Several Democrats seconded the motion, and the Democrat caucus voted to adjourn.

    "Once again, the speaker has chosen to ignore House rules.  Rule 8 clearly states that a motion to suspend a rule takes precedent over any other business and is in order at any time," Rep. Torr said.

"Instead of dealing with the motion to vote on the property tax cap resolution that more than 70 percent of Hoosiers want, they chose to adjourn."

SJR 1 contains the constitutional amendment permanently capping homeowners' property taxes at 1 percent of assessed value, 2 percent for residential rental property and farmland and 3 percent for business property.

To become part of the Indiana Constitution, an amendment must be passed by two consecutive, separately elected sessions of the General Assembly and by Hoosier voters in the next general election. If the House passes SJR 1, Hoosier voters would have the opportunity to vote on it in 2010.

Both houses of the General Assembly passed SJR 1 last session, the House passing it 64-35.  The Senate has already passed SJR 1 this session.

The deadline for the final reading of bills is Wednesday, and the House Republicans' Caps Clock has been ticking down the time remaining for SJR 1 to be heard. The Caps Clock is visible outside the House chambers and is posted on the House Republican Caucus Web page, www.in.gov/house_republicans.

"There is no reason to delay voting on the tax caps now, this session," Rep. Davis said in his motion. "The sooner we are on the path to ensuring that voters will have the chance to vote on the caps in 2010, the sooner our state and its citizens can have predictability and confidence in protecting their homes.

The House is scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Unedited video of the proceedings is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nT6O_5-a4k.