March 2, 2014

FRIEND: Session nearing the end


---- — The weather has improved somewhat, and people are moving around. There is excessive water as the snow melts, but our folks are very resilient and will deal with the problems. One of the requirements of living here is that everyone needs to be tough.

Saturday, the Miami County 4-H Sausage and Pancake Day was a well-attended success. The committee that organizes this event always does a fantastic job of putting it together. Sponsors, contributors and workers all come together for a 12-hour serving day. I congratulate them on their success because it helps fund 4-H fair activities.

Promoting our state’s agricultural operations is always a priority, and this year, Senate Bill 101, which would strengthen trespass penalties on farmland, is progressing and has broad support in both chambers. The bill passed the Senate without any criticism, and most of the groups that have opposed previous legislative proposals on this topic have been supportive or neutral of the bill. Perhaps this bill can be passed for some additional protection down on the farm.

Discussions continue this session about tax policy and how it affects job creation and economic development. With only a few weeks of session remaining, we are discussing Senate legislation, and the Senate is discussing bills that passed the House. The House wants to grant counties the option of exempting new investments from the Business Personal Property Tax (BPPT). The Senate originally proposed cutting the tax for all small businesses that pay less than $25,000 annually.

Our option does not completely eliminate the BPPT. Throughout this discussion, a lot has been said by outside parties and special interest groups about the “complete elimination” of this tax and how it would cost local governments $1 billion in Indiana. To be clear, neither chamber is proposing a $1 billion cut to local governments. It simply will not happen.

The House wants to give counties another tool to attract businesses and jobs – if the county chooses to exercise that option. Given the gravity of this tax and its implications on local governments, we will work with our Senate counterparts in order to find common ground so further strain isn’t put on local budgets.

This is about competing for jobs in the Midwest, as our surrounding states either do not have this tax or it is administered at a lower rate. Indiana’s border counties that compete directly with Ohio and Illinois — states that do not tax personal property, Michigan — a state that intends to phase out the personal property tax, or Kentucky — a state that taxes personal property at a lower average rate than Indiana, are all in tough positions to compete, and we want to change that.

Buddy, our three-legged golden retriever, has enjoyed staying in our attached garage this long winter. Normally, his shelter is in the machine shed, but this weather has been far too extreme. He’s been enjoying the low heat of our garage. Even as he ages, he is a very active dog.

My neighbor and LP gas supplier said that the customer price for LP is down to $3.84 per gallon. She is cautiously optimistic that the prices and supply will continue to improve. Many of the residents of House District 23 have been gouged by these ridiculous prices, and my hope is that we can address the “gougers” in some way.

Session is approaching the end. Stay in touch.

Bill Friend, is a Republican representing District 23 in the Indiana House of Representatives. You can reach him at 317-232-9831.