[r63] Messmer Report: Bills to be introduced by Rep. Messmer in 2012 Legislative Session

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, December 30, 2011

This week I’d like to cover the bills I have been working on for the 2012 Legislative Session.

Two of the bills came out of discussions we had in the Interim Study Committee on Economic Development that I co-chaired. 

The first bill would repeal some of the language that was inserted in House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004 in conference committee during last session requiring local units of government to spend up to 5 percent more for supplies from a local vendor within their county or a surrounding county.  The new law also required local purchasing preferences for construction projects.  Testimony presented at the committee from the USDA stated that a local pricing preference like that would violate federal competitive bidding rules and cause communities to lose their federal matching grants.  Representatives from various local government associations testified that the mandate to pay higher prices would cost tax payers considerably more money at a time when local tax revenues are declining.  My bill would remove public works projects completely from the price preference and make the local supplies provision optional, not mandatory.

The second bill would exempt military pensions from state personal income taxes.  As pointed out by officials at the Crane Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, about half of states do not tax military pensions, and none of the states surrounding Indiana do.  Many retiring generals go to work for defense contractors when they leave the military, and they are likely to locate in the area that has the most favorable cost of living.  A model for an area that has maximized their growth in defense industry jobs in the last two decades that we should try to copy is Huntsville, AL.  That area alone has about 200 retired generals.  When the decisions are made in the defense department on where military tasks are going to be assigned, those relationships between current and retired officers make an impact on those decisions.  The Huntsville area has seen a growth of about 10,000 defense industry jobs over the last 10 years.  One of the impediments for that to happen in Indiana is taxation of military pensions.

I was asked by the professional licensing agency, as one of the few professional engineers in the legislature, to carry a bill allowing professional engineers and surveyors to complete their continuing education classes that they need to renew their license through online classes.  Starting in 2013, engineers and surveyors will have to complete eight hours of continuing education classes.  Allowing those hours to be completed online will streamline the license renewal process for them.

A charity gaming bill request was brought to me by members of the NRA Foundation and Ducks Unlimited to help them improve the charity gaming license procedure for their local chapters and volunteer organizations.  The bill I am filing would allow the state or regional director of a non-profit organization similar to the NRA Foundation or Ducks Unlimited to file for a comprehensive charity gaming license.  This would allow the parent organization to work more closely with the local chapter or volunteer organization when filing for permits and submitting financial reports to increase compliance with gaming laws by those organizations.  Under current laws, local volunteers many times violate gaming laws without knowing it.  This bill would give groups like this author option to streamline compliance for their organization.

The last bill I have ready for the upcoming session deals with situations in junior and senior high schools where a student has been the victim of battery.  Currently, there is no requirement in state law that battery on school property be reported to law enforcement.  It is currently left up to individual school policy to make that decision.  My bill would require a police report be filed when battery occurs.  It may not lead to any charges, but if no report is filed, a repeat offender has no track record for law enforcement to use as history when an injury occurs that would warrant criminal charges.

I wish you and your family a healthy, happy new year.