[r49] Rep. Ulmer's Column (2/1/2008)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Start Date: 2/1/2008 All Day
End Date: 2/1/2008
(STATEHOUSE) Feb. 1, 2008 - The legislature has reached the point where the bills switch houses. All of the House bills that passed move to the Senate, and all of the Senate bills that passed move to the House. The third-reading deadline caused us to work late this week, but we were able to pass quite a few bills. A couple of my bills passed, but there were some disappointments this week.

            I authored House Bill 1036, which requires motorists to show proof of financial responsibility if they are involved in a moving violation. If a driver does not have proof of financial responsibility or insurance at the time of the ticket, their license and/or their vehicle registration could be suspended or revoked. Further, within five years after the citation, if they have their driver's license, drivers could randomly be chosen to show proof of financial responsibility or insurance. The bill passed 91-1. Indiana already requires drivers to have insurance; this measure just adds more teeth to the punishment.

            Another bill I worked on, House Bill 1113, also passed the House. This bill increases the penalty for having a fraudulent birth certificate or altering a birth certificate. Currently, it is a Class A misdemeanor for this violation. Under my bill, the penalty would be increased to a Class D felony, which is punishable by up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The intent of this bill is to prevent the creation of false identities, which can be used to support illegal immigration.

            While I am happy some of my legislation advanced, I was disappointed that we did not complete true property tax reform. The House was able to pass House Bill 1001, which is mostly good and will bring major reform. However, I wanted to ensure that the property tax relief was made permanent by placing caps into the state Constitution.

House Joint Resolution 1 would have placed permanent caps on the amount all property tax payers would be required to pay. As the bill was called down, a fellow representative offered an amendment that would have permanently repealed homestead property taxes beginning in 2012. Instead of allowing discussion on the issue, the author of HJR-1 pulled the bill one minute into the presentation of the amendment.

I believe we should have had discussion on the circuit breakers and the repeal of homestead property taxes on the House floor. The Senate has passed similar circuit breaker legislation, and I hope that we will be able to discuss when the bills switch houses.

            We are more than a third of the way through session, and I will continue to work on the issues that are most important to Elkhart County residents. As always, I urge anyone with questions or concerns to contact my office. I here to work hard for you, and I am more than willing to help with anything that I can. Call me at 1-800-382-9841 or e-mail me at H49@in.gov.