[r79] In Lehman's Terms: Final Countdown for the 117th General Assembly (2/24/2012)

Friday, February 24, 2012 7:00 pm

Start Date:  2/24/2012    
End Date:  2/24/2012    

Adams County

Allen County

Wells County

Final Countdown for the 117th General Assembly
Hello again from your Indiana General Assembly.  I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.  Indiana law requires us to complete our work by March 14, but we will probably finish session on March 9. Since right-to-work passed, the chambers have been working together and the legislative process has surged forward without a hiccup.  

One of the issues to be addressed by the legislature is the phasing out of Indiana’s inheritance tax. Indiana is one of only seven states to collect inheritance taxes.  In the Midwest, Michigan and Ohio do not have inheritance taxes, and Kentucky does not tax on transfers to children.

While this tax brings in approximately $160 million a year and there are some who oppose its phase out, I feel that this tax is simply unfair.  Not only are your hard-earned dollars taxed twice, the law punishes Hoosiers for their success and fiscal discipline to provide for their family’s future generations.  It’s also a tax that hinders investment and hurts small businesses and family farms. I would support its immediate elimination, but I will also support the bill in its current form to establish a ten year period for the tax to be phased out. 

Another issue that I have spoken about recently is my attempt to bring some common sense to the regional sewer district problems around the state.  Let me begin by saying that the large majority of districts are not problematic, but, like everything else, there are those whose abuses are beyond reason.  Homes lost to foreclosure due to unpaid sewer bills; public meetings with the voices of the public silenced; board members who are not nor will ever be ratepayers; and persons with new and costly septic systems being forced to abandon those systems and forced to “hook up” to a costlier system is unacceptable.  

I am the author of House Bill (HB) 1225 which addresses these very issues. The bill was given a hearing (and I want to thank the many people from Allen and Adams County who attended), but it was not moved out of committee.  HB 1117 is now the bill being moved that will address some of these issues.  There have been many twists and turns, but, hopefully at the end of the day, we can find a sound compromise to resolve this issue.

Last summer, the Indiana Supreme Court handed down the Barnes v. State of Indiana decision.  This case involved a man who resisted a police officer in his home when the officer entered the home without a warrant.  The literal explanation of the verdict from the case was that you cannot under any circumstances resist a police officer inside your home.  This issue creates a bit of a predicament. 

We all want the aid and security of the police and for them to be able to do their job without additional fear of harm in case there’s a problem in our homes, but at the same time we have to be careful to protect the privacy and sacredness of a person’s home.  The fourth amendment to our United States constitution guarantees us that right.  

Senate Bill 1 is a bill that we heard this week in our Courts and Criminal Code committee of which I’m a member. This bill returns the rights of a person to resist back to pre-Barnes law with a special exemption for the use of deadly force against police officers in extremely limited circumstances.  All Hoosiers should have the opportunity to protect themselves against the unlawful actions of others. This issue is what our nation’s patriots were originally concerned with hundreds of years ago.  This bill is still being debated and will more than likely be one of the last bills that we pass this session.

As the pace quickens over the next two weeks, I will do my best to keep you updated on the progress of the issues we talked about here as well as other issues that will have an impact on our district.

Until next time, keeping things in Lehman’s terms,

Matt Lehman