Legislative meltdown costs farmers

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 14, 2005
by WLJ
On March 1, Democrats in the Indiana House of Representatives walked out, effectively bringing the legislative session to a halt and resulting in the procedural death of over 130 bills. Several key pieces of agricultural legislation were lost.
Funding for a new Colts stadium and a provision to move the state to daylight savings time were also among the measures that died.
The director of the soon-to-be Department of Agriculture blasted House Democrats for not showing up to do their work and, in effect, killing the bills that would have directly benefitted Hoosier farmers and ag producers.
“The House Democrats played games, and Hoosier farmers and producers were among the biggest losers,” said Commissioner Andy Miller. “Do they not understand how many farmers fight to survive financially and that these bills could have helped? Do they not understand the bills they were supposed to vote on could have saved farmers money, created jobs and developed opportunities? How could they be so blind that they would not see how their grandstanding would hurt hardworking farmers across the state?”
Among the farm legislation killed was House Bill 1367 which would have immediately lowered the base property tax rate on productive farmland. After property tax reassessment, farmers were hit hard with a base rate of $1,050 per acre. HB 1367 would have decreased the rate to $880 per acre; translating into a 28 percent savings in taxes paid.
House Bill 1724, also lost in the House meltdown, would have provided tax incentives to agri-businesses that either invested $1 million in facilities and created five new jobs, or increased the number of full-time jobs by 10 percent. HB 1724 would have made the climate friendlier for agri-businesses to improve operations and create jobs.
House Bill 1573 is legislation that would have eliminated the need for license plates on certain pieces of agricultural equipment that spend their “lives” on farm fields. Farmers would have potentially saved hundreds of dollars by not having to buy license plates for implements that never hit Hoosier roads.
“Governor Daniels and Lt. Governor Skillman have made it very clear that they are committed to Indiana agriculture. We are positioning this state to become a leader in the nation, and world, in many ag-related areas,” said Commissioner Miller. “This inaction is a step backward on many levels. I am only thankful that our soy bio-diesel and ethanol legislation originated in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats worked for the good of all Hoosiers.”
House Bill 1008 that creates a new Department of Agriculture had already passed the full House before the walkout and is thus unaffected.