[r72] A Clere view of the Statehouse: As summer fades, study process heats up (8/16/2011)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Start Date: 8/16/2011 All Day
End Date: 8/16/2011

As summer fades, study process heats up

Two weeks ago, I wrote about legislative summer study committees and the Indiana State Fair. One of the committees scheduled to meet was the State Fair Advisory Committee, which was slated to meet today to discuss strategic planning.

If the meeting goes on, its focus will surely be much different than anyone could have anticipated two weeks ago. Five people died and dozens were injured Saturday when stage rigging collapsed during a concert at the fair. Please keep the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

After being closed Sunday, the fair reopened yesterday and will continue through the upcoming weekend. I'm sure it will be somewhat subdued, and the aftermath and memory of last weekend's tragedy will linger long after the lights, sounds and smells of the midway have faded.

Additional study committee meetings have been scheduled since my column two weeks ago, so I thought it would be worthwhile to publish an updated list. An online calendar is updated daily, and that's the best way to keep up with what's going on. Go to www.in.gov/legislative and look under "Interim Study Committees" in the menu on the left side of the page. From there, you will find committee rosters, meeting agendas and minutes.

The meetings are open to the public and most are broadcast on the Internet. If you do not have Internet access and would like to receive information, call my legislative assistant, Clinton Bohm, at 1-800-382-9841. Many of the topics addressed by the study committees will be the subject of legislation, so now is an important time to make sure your voice is heard.

An example of a committee that has scheduled a meeting since my last column is the Water Resources Study Committee, which will meet Aug. 26. The Department of Natural Resources will report on the state of water resources in Indiana, and the committee will discuss planning for the future. Every Hoosier has an interest in water, if not an interest in the topic.

Meetings are sometimes scheduled at other locations, but all of the following meetings will be held at the Statehouse:

  • Criminal Code Evaluation Commission, 10:30 a.m. Thursday

  • Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee, 1 p.m. Thursday

  • Joint Study Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessment and Solutions, 10 a.m. Aug. 23, Sept. 6 and 20 and Oct. 11

  • Select Joint Commission on Medicaid Oversight, 10 a.m. Aug. 23

  • Interim Study Committee on Insurance, 10 a.m. Aug. 24

  • Commission on Courts, 1:30 p.m. Aug. 24

  • Committee on Child Care, 10 a.m. Aug. 25. Sept. 27 and Oct. 25

  • Interim Study Committee on Economic Development, 10 a.m. Aug. 25

  • Interim Study Committee on Education, 1 p.m. Aug. 25

  • Water Resources Study Committee, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 26

  • Environmental Quality Service Council, 1 p.m. Aug. 30, 10 a.m. Oct.7 and 1 p.m. Oct. 27

  • Commission on Military and Veterans Affairs, 2 p.m. Aug. 31

  • Legislative Council Data Processing Subcommittee, 11 a.m. Sept. 1

  • Commission on Mental Health and Addiction, 1 p.m. Sept. 6 and Oct. 4

  • Interim Study Committee on Employment Issues, 9 a.m. Sept. 7

  • Commission on Developmental Disabilities, 1 p.m. Sept. 7, Oct. 5

  • Interim Study Committee on Driver Education, 1:30 p.m. Sept. 8

  • Regulatory Flexibility Committee, House Chambers, 10 a.m. Sept. 21 and 28

  • Pension Management Oversight Commission, 1 p.m. Sept. 28

Believe it or not, that's not the end of it. Some committees have yet to schedule a meeting. One of those committees, the Commission of State Tax and Financing Policy, is charged with studying 20 topics:

  • How the Indiana income tax structure, including existing and potentially new income tax credits and deductions, may influence a senior's decision to stay in Indiana after retirement

  • How local option income taxes affect local governments' ability to provide services to facilities that employ a significant number of people who live in a different county

  • Whether local governments should be granted additional financing options for providing services to such facilities

  • How local option taxes should be distributed among local units of government

  • Transit funding and whether and to what extent it should be a state or local responsibility

  • Issues related to fire protection territories, including the formation process for territories and the establishment of tax rates and levies

  • All aspects, including the advantages and disadvantages, of phasing out the state inheritance tax

  • Issues related to township assistance provided in Calumet Township in Lake County, including any effects on taxpayers in the town of Griffith

  • Whether methodology currently used for valuing residential rental property for property tax purposes should be applied to commercial rental property

  • Issues related to periodic or "rolling" reassessment

  • Whether a tax incentive for logistics and homeland security expenditures would provide a net gain in tax revenue and investment in Indiana

  • Methods for eliminating or reducing the personal property tax statewide and the appropriateness of allowing local governments the option of eliminating or abating it, including the authority to offer deductions or exemptions for economic development purposes

  • Differences between the eligibility of nonprofit entities for federal income tax exemptions and the eligibility of nonprofit entities for Indiana property tax exemptions.

  • Issues related to sales tax holidays

  • Internet sales and taxation

  • Whether county government should be granted the authority to exempt personal property

  • Whether property tax credits and deductions for residential property to which the seller of the property was entitled should be transferred to the buyer in the year of the sale if the property is determined to be exempt for the following year

  • Issues related to the earned income tax credit

  • Modernizing Indiana legislative timelines for assessment and budget cycles to address current taxation practices and changes in technology

  • The history and use of historic preservation tax credits and the economic benefits of expanding the availability and increasing the statutory limits of such credits

The chairman has been out of the country, so the committee will get a late start. I promoted the study of several of these topics, and I will continue to work to make sure they receive full consideration. Summer may be winding down, but the legislative study process still has a long way to go.