[R53] 2013 legislative session recap (4/29/2013)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Start Date: 4/29/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 4/29/2013 End Time: 11:59 PM

It is hard to believe that another legislative session has come and gone. Each year is unique and this time around was no exception. We tackled a variety of issues, but most importantly, we helped a lot of different people in a variety of ways. To illustrate this, I would like to share with you Senate Enrolled Acts (SEA) 319 and 343 as well as House Enrolled Acts (HEA) 1001 and 1069.    

Being from a rural, agricultural district, I have seen firsthand the effects that last year’s drought has had on the quality of farmland and consequently, the revenue of local farmers. In order to address this, I served as a cosponsor to SEA 319, the first piece of legislation to be signed into law in the 2013 legislative session. This new law was fastā€tracked through the legislative process in order to prevent an estimated tax increase of $57 million for farmland across the state. To the relief of countless Hoosiers, the soil productivity factors used for the March 2011 assessment of agricultural land will remain in place for property taxes payable in 2014. The new soil productivity factors will not be used until 2015.

SEA 343 aims to provide a method by which local governments can reorganize themselves in more efficient ways, eliminating redundancies and cutting red bureaucratic tape. It intends to improve upon the Government Modernization Act, legislation which was put in place in 2006, by establishing rules which both sides in the reorganization process must follow. One of these provisions includes changes in the tally system. In the case of a proposed reorganization between a municipality and a township, the voters residing within the municipality may only be included in the tally of votes for the municipality and the voters who reside within the township may only be included in the tally of votes for the township. This puts them on an even playing field despite their differences in population. It also requires that a reorganization plan must include a fiscal impact analysis which must specify any estimated effects on political subdivisions in the county that are not participating in the reorganization and on taxpayers located in those political subdivisions. By outlining these new regulations, SEA 343 effectively clarifies and streamlines local government reorganization.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I have spent a great deal of time this session discussing HEA 1001, the biennial budget. I am very proud that we were all able to work together to do what is right for Indiana. This is a fiscally responsible and completely balanced budget. Without overspending, we have increased K-12 education funding by $390 million over the biennium and allotted $215 million per year for roads and bridges. We exercised a great deal of discipline and chose to focus on securing a stable Indiana for the future as opposed to focusing solely on the here and now. The budget contains a blend of tax relief including the immediate elimination of the Death Tax, reduction of the Financial Institutions tax, continued corporate income tax reduction and phased in income tax cut of 5%. Given these investments and the number of taxes that we have cut, I believe that every Hoosier will be positively affected by the passage of this budget. 

Lastly, I was compelled to author HEA 1069 after witnessing firsthand the 2011 State Fair tragedy.  This law allows the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission more time to adopt permanent rules and keeps temporary rules regarding the requirements to use outdoor event equipment in place until Jan. 1, 2016. This will allow for an increased review time for the safety commission as well as additional necessary precautions to ensure such an event never happens again. Additionally, it makes other rules permanent, including the addition of “outdoor event equipment” to the definition of a Class 1 structure, a building or structure that is intended for public use. This will give us the opportunity to exercise increased precaution and review the emergency rules a second time.

Even though session has adjourned, my job as your state representative has not ended. In fact, it has only just begun. I will spend the summer in interim committees and working with constituents to prepare for the next session. Please feel free to contact me anytime by phone at 317-232-9619 or by email at h53@in.gov.