The 2012 legislative session is wrapping up and we’ve been able to accomplish many of our goals to make Indiana a better place to live and work. There are several bills of note that passed including a bill to provide an additional $80 to $100 million in funding for full-day kindergarten, improve the automatic taxpayer refund, phase-out the state inheritance tax, and tackle the issue of nepotism and conflict of interest in local government.
At the state level, for some time now, there has been a policy on nepotism and conflict of interest. There has been support both locally and across other communities in the state to align local government to similar standards at the state level. To accomplish this goal, the bill stipulates that relatives of a town, township, city or county may not be employed be an agency in positions resulting in one relative supervising another. The bill also states that local government employees may not be elected to a legislative or fiscal body overseeing the unit for which they work.
A second bill that has received local support, especially from farmers and those that own small businesses, is legislation to phase-out the inheritance or ‘death’ tax in Indiana. Indiana is one of the last remaining states to require their residents to pay taxes on the assets that they will to their families. This causes many seniors to leave Indiana to avoid paying what is essentially a double tax. This is a major step for Indiana and I’m pleased that this phase-out of the inheritance tax will help so many people over the coming years.
Finally, one of the strongest pieces of legislation we passed this year is going to help many Hoosiers both now and in the future. We were able to increase the amount of the per student grant for full-day kindergarten which will give more children access to early educational opportunities. Investing in Indiana’s students will help them receive a top quality education and will also ensure an even stronger economy and workforce in the future.
The same piece of legislation will also improve the process by which excess state reserves are returned to state taxpayers through an automatic taxpayer refund and it maintains our commitment to contribute to the Retired Teacher Pension Stabilization Fund. Finally, this bill provides additional funds to victims of the State Fair stage collapse.
All three of the before mentioned bills are awaiting the governor’s approval to be signed into law. This has been a productive session and one that has strengthened Indiana for the betterment of many Hoosiers. Thank you for your continued feedback and support this session.