[r54] A short history of a short session (2/27/2012)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Start Date: 2/27/2012
End Date: 2/27/2012

The 2012 legislative session is quickly coming to an end with only two weeks left. Finding the brevity of this session surprising, people often ask me why some years’ session last longer than other years’. It’s not due to a lack of items on the agenda, but rather, it is because the legislature delegates a two-year state budget. This year is a non-budget year – also known as a short session.

In the past, the Indiana General Assembly only met on a biennial basis. In 1970, the legislature voted to establish a session in the off-year to handle issues not resolved during the budget year.

As a result, this year’s legislation has very little fiscal impact to the state or its taxpayers. Accordingly, we focused on policy that will help Hoosiers in the long run, but would not require resources from the state’s budget.

House Bill (HB) 1376 would provide additional assistance to last summer’s Indiana State Fair stage collapse victims and their families by raising the compensation for these individuals from $5 million to $10 million. No amount of money fixes this tragic situation, however, it is important to provide fair and reasonable assistance to these individuals and their families.

Additionally, HB 1376 would provide complete funding for full-day kindergarten and prioritize refunds to taxpayers by distributing these funds more fairly, which are both aimed at lessoning the financial burden Hoosiers incur during difficult economic times.

Although this legislation appears to have a financial impact, this funding is actually the result of an oversight from last year and does not affect the state’s budget. HB 1376 is currently being discussed by the Senate.

In the spirit of aiding Hoosiers in times of need, HB 1059 would extend the resources provided to military personnel and their families from the Military Family Relief Fund from one to three years. This legislation would help military families cope with basic costs during active duty employment of a family member.

The Military Family Relief Fund is self-sufficient through the sale of specialty license plates and is at no expense to taxpayers. HB 1059 has passed through both chambers and now awaits a final approval in the House before it is sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Finally – in a continual effort to advance Indiana as a great state to live, work and raise a family in – we discussed legislation to phase-out the Inheritance Tax over a ten year span. HB 1199 would eliminate an imposed tax when people will their businesses and earnings onto others after death. This legislation is currently being discussed in the Senate.

Although we only have a short time left in session, the next two weeks will be some of the busiest of the year. Please stay up-to-date with this and all legislation at www.in.gov/legislative.