[r63] Messmer Report: What’s likely to be discussed in the upcoming session

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This week I thought I would give an overview of some of the high profile legislation that the General Assembly will likely be dealing with during the session that starts on January 4.  This is a short session that will end on March 14.  Next week, I will share my thoughts on the individual bills that I am working on.

I would expect the legislature to once again act on the smoking ban bill.  There is increased interest in getting a smoking ban through the legislature quickly with the Super Bowl being held in Indianapolis on February 5.  We have passed a smoking ban bill out of the House for the last five years, only to see the bills die in the Senate.  I have supported the bills that have been passed out of the House the last three years, and will again if it contains most of the exemptions we have included in the other smoking ban bills. 

The local government reform legislation we passed out of the House last session should come back again this session.  It included the conflict of interest bill that I authored last session that would prohibit a person serving on an elected board that approves their own salary and benefits, and another bill dealing with anti-nepotism that would limit the ability of hiring family members by elected officials.

There will likely be a bill that will require the schools to perform student counts multiple times per year rather than just at the end of September. And with the increase in revenue the state is seeing this year, there will be some interest in increasing the amount of school funding for the year as well.

A couple of tax provisions will be discussed.  One will deal with the phase of out of the state inheritance tax, and the other would be to lower the financial institutions tax to the same rate as the rest of the corporate income taxes.  Last session we set a schedule of lowering the corporate rate from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent over a four-year period.

The issue that has been getting the most attention prior to session is the Right to Work bill.  That legislation deals with whether an employer can require their employees to pay dues to the union that represents the workers at their place of employment.  The usual contract agreement between the employer and the union says that if the employer agrees to require the employees to join the union, under most scenarios, the union will agree not to strike.  Including that clause is optional now. 

Under Right to Work legislation, that clause is prohibited from being included in those contracts.  There is some potential for economic growth for the state if this bill is enacted, because there are manufacturing companies that chose to locate only in states with that prohibition.  The bill is viewed by labor groups as being very anti-union.  As the co-owner of a construction company with employees that are members of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 136, it would be very doubtful that a version could be adopted that I could support.  If it can get to the floor for a vote, I would expect it to pass the House.  We will see.  It will no doubt be an exciting session!

The Christmas season is here.  Enjoy this time with your family and friends, but always remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.  Merry Christmas!