Things are gearing up at the Statehouse in preparation for the upcoming legislative session with an annual meeting, Legislative Organization Day. Traditionally, Organization Day is primarily ceremonial and includes events such as the swearing in of all 150 representatives and senators, the naming of leadership positions and the swearing-in of the speaker of the House.
This year, in addition to the usual proceedings, the General Assembly will use Organization Day to begin the work of reforming Indiana's property tax system. Over the summer, Gov. Mitch Daniels extended the deadline for counties to adopt a local option income tax to offset property taxes. He did so with the permission of all four caucus leaders under the agreement that the legislative branch would vote to ratify his actions on Organization Day. Legislation has been drafted to approve the governor's extension and to clean up some of the provisions of House Enrolled Act 1478, a property tax bill passed during the 2007 session.
The House Ways and Means Committee, where all tax bills must originate, will begin meeting in December to discuss the governor's property tax plan. All bills must be approved in committee before they can receive a hearing by the full General Assembly, so utilizing the month of December is critically important. The sooner the Ways and Means Committee is able to approve the bill, the sooner the General Assembly can vote to pass the legislation and bring relief to Hoosier property owners.
The Indiana legislature is part-time and rotates between a biennial four-month long session and a three-month short session. The 2008 session is a short session that will revolve around developing a solution to the property tax crisis. Usually, several issues are debated throughout session, but this year that may not be the case.
I encourage you to watch the legislative process on the House Internet Program, a Republican-created initiative, which allows you to view both the House floor and committee proceedings at www.in.gov/legislative . Click on "Watch the General Assembly session" on the right side of the screen.
The upcoming 2008 legislative session will begin January 8 and conclude, at the latest, on March 14. For questions or comments regarding this session, I can be reached by e-mail at h83@IN.gov, or by calling at 1-800-382-9841. You can also send letter to 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.
Visit us online at www.in.gov/legislative