Rep. Bell Prepares for "Short" Session

Monday, December 21, 2009 7:00 pm

Start Date:  12/21/2009  All Day  
End Date:  12/21/2009    
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STATEHOUSE- The 2010 legislative session is less than a month away, but legislators got a head start in the past two week with several committee meetings to discuss issues facing the 2010 session. Property tax caps, legislative ethics reform and delaying implementation of a planned increase in unemployment insurance taxes for Indiana businesses are among the issues discussed.

January 5 is the official start date for the upcoming legislative session, which must adjourn by March 14. This session is different in two ways; no discussion on the budget and a maximum length of 10 weeks.

Since my colleagues and I are working with a shortened schedule, we must work diligently to ensure Hoosiers that legislation will be completed. In order to do that, the House Ways and Means Committee began hearing testimony on a constitutional amendment that would establish permanent property tax caps. The current law states that property taxes will be capped at 1 percent for homeowners, 2 percent for agriculture and rental property and 3 percent for business property of their assessed value.

On Monday, Dec 14, the committee passed legislation concerning permanent property tax caps by a vote of 21-3. The bill is now eligible for discussion on the House floor beginning in early January.

In the end, any amendment to the constitution must be approved by a vote of the citizens of the state. My goal is to pass the property tax cap amendment this session thus giving Hoosiers the opportunity to vote on the measure in the November 2010 general election so that permanent property tax caps will be written into the state's constitution.

In addition, the House Gaming Study Committee met last week to conclude their interim study and to discuss the findings that may help to shape legislation in the upcoming session. While there are more important issues facing our state, as the Ranking Minority Member on the Public Policy Committee, I take my role on this committee very seriously. Gaming legislation is usually given a hearing in the Public Policy Committee before it is considered by the full body, so it is important that I meet my obligation to provide leadership on the issue.

Gaming issues demand serious and sober consideration in large part because the gaming industry generates approximately $900 million in revenue to the State of Indiana each year, of which $486 million is dedicated to property tax relief. Opponents and proponents of gaming alike must recognize the tremendous impact this industry has on state revenues, and on helping to minimize the taxes paid by homeowners across our state.

As session begins, remember that the legislative process is always open to Hoosiers. Feel free to come down to the Statehouse to watch session and become involved in your government. In an effort to make government more transparent for Hoosiers session can be viewed online at http://www.in.gov/legislative/session/video.html.