Sep 25, 2006

SEA 232 - Jury Service Exemptions

Kudos to Indiana on this one. It repeals a provision allowing for certain jury service exemptions and puts in its place a deferral system by which selected jurors may defer service for up to a year if they select an alternate date. This law ends the dodging of jury service while simultaneously giving people an option that reduces the inconvenience of service as much as possible. Jury service is a duty that every registered voter owes in exchange for that privilege, and is essential to the functioning of our court system. That being said, there’s no reason to make jury service more of an inconvenience than it has to be. Hopefully this will lead to much more enthusiastic jurors, who will view jury service as less of a chore.

Author: Beverly J. Gard
Sponsor: Ralph M. Foley

HEA 1327-Taxation and Government Finance

Yet one more law where state government interferes in county tax issues. This one regulates Jackson and Scott Counties’ income tax rate and changes the termination date for Nashville and Martinsville food and beverage taxes. What end does it serve for state to be meddling in county affairs? The county is responsible enough to levy its own taxes when it needs them without the state tweaking and modifying.

Author: Jeffrey Espich
Sponsor: Howard Kenley

Sep 20, 2006

HEA 1261-Housing and Community Development

This law moves several programs from the Family Social Services Administration (FSSA) to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, including the housing assistance act of 1937, community services block grants, home energy assistance programs, weatherization assistance, food and nutrition programs, migrant and farm worker programs, emergency shelter grant programs and shelter plus care programs.

On its face this seems like a good thing for Libertarians. With all these services being moved away from the bureaucratic agency, one would think government was downsizing. One would be wrong. With all these responsibilities being lifted from the shoulders of the FSSA, maybe budget and/or personnel cuts would accompany. Maybe not. There is no provision in the bill reducing the size of FSSA. Other programs will assuredly follow to take the place of those that have been moved. Government agencies never die.

Author: Woody Burton
Sponsor: Teresa S. Lubbers

SEA 192-Bail Requirements

This law allows property to be posted as bail and allows the court to require a defendant to sign a contract that allows the court to retain bail to pay public representation and fines, fees and restitution should the defendant be convicted. The Libertarian Party has long-believed in the guilty bearing the cost of the justice system. This seems only appropriate.

The public should be more than happy to pay to defend innocent men and arrive at justice, but why should we as taxpayers pay for a guilty man’s defense. If the defendant is found guilty, he/she should reimburse the public for the money that was spent at trial. This seems like a very fair system, and we are impressed with Indiana’s decision to do it this way.

Author: Richard D. Bray
Sponsor: Ralph M. Foley

Sep 13, 2006

HEA 1011-Miscellaneous Election Law Matters

Establishes a pilot program in selected counties that will hopefully go statewide whereby a voter may vote at any vote center in his/her county regardless of precinct. This law would make voting much easier for those who work somewhere different than where they live. By giving people more flexibility with where they vote, hopefully Indiana can substantially increase voter turnout and make it possible for people who could not make it to the polls on election day to vote. Workaholics, people on the move and young families will benefit from this experiment. This is a good move on the part of the Indiana legislature and we hope that it works out well in the pilot counties and becomes law for all of Indiana very soon. And, after that, let's work on eliminating the gerrymandered districts so when people do vote they have a choice. What a combination -- choice and access?

Author: Kathy Richardson
Sponsor: Connie Lawson

SEA 191-Photos in Criminal History Files

Provides that a law enforcement or justice agency reporting an arrest must submit a photo of the suspect and those photographs are included as part of the limited criminal history an employer may request before hiring. It's puzzling why an employer would want a 20-year old mug shot or even one-year old photo for that matter. The employer can learn all he/she needs to know about prospective a propspective employee from court papers, applications and properly prepared background checks. There are private companies that excel in providing quality background checks. Is it not possible for a person to learn from mistakes made without our government standing on the sidelines undermining attempts at personal growth? Show some respect, please.

Author: Thomas J. Wyss
Sponsor: William Ruppel

Aug 30, 2006

SEA 354-Forestry Issues

Allows certain land to be classified as wildlands for property tax purposes. We don’t really have a problem with that. What we have a problem with is that the law goes on to specify that a native forest to have at least 1000 trees per acre, but a forest plantation need have only 400. This seems a little backward to us. A plantation is certainly less of a habitat than a genuine native forest. Why is it that the tax break comes easier to the plantation than the undisturbed forest? Could the timber industry have anything to do with it? Something doesn’t smell right.

Author: Thomas K. Weatherwax
Sponsor: John Ulmer

HEA 1420 Employee Tobacco Use

This bill seems good but yet, so common sense it should be unnecessary. The bill ALLOWS employers to implement financial incentives related to employee health benefits to reduce employee tobacco use. Why does this even need to be said? Of course employers and employees should have the right to negotiate any agreement they wish between themselves. An employee smoking increases the chance that he/she will need medical care. This is a statistical fact. Health insurance is based on statistical probabilities. Those who are a higher risk should of course pay higher premiums. But more importantly than that, a business and an employee do not need the permission from the government enter into an agreement that affects only them. Consenting adults have the capability as well as the right to negotiate their own deals. So thanks to Indiana for allowing us to make our own decisions, but we’d rather you just stayed out of it.

Author: Tim Brown
Sponsor: Beverly J. Gard

Aug 21, 2006

HEA 1249 County Drug Free Community Fund

Besides the philosophical grounds on which we oppose nearly all drug related legislation, this law violates libertarian principles above and beyond the usual personal choice issues. The County Drug Free Fund is a fund established by the State of Indiana, which it can use to influence local government on local issues. In much in the same way that the federal government used the threat of losing highway funds to enforce its drinking age on the states, Indiana can now use the threat of revoking CDFCF money to influence county drug policy. The program requires that to receive funds each county must appoint a coordinating council, which must be approved by the Commission for a Drug Free Indiana. It requires that the county submit a comprehensive “drug free communities” plan to the commission. If the commission does not approve of the plan it can send it back, withhold funds or even appoint a new board. Not only does this bill appropriate taxpayer money, and create more needless bureaucracy, but it also gives the State of Indiana the ability to effectively blackmail localities into compliance on local issues. This is bad news for civil libertarians tired of the government telling them what they can and can’t put in their bodies; bad news for efficiency minded libertarians, disgusted with bureaucratic waste; bad news for fiscal conservatives, looking for lower taxes and less frivolous spending; bad news for federalists hoping to harness the ever growing leviathan of federal and state government and keep it out of local affairs; but it is especially bad news for the people of Indiana who are sick and tired of the government nanny.

Author: Luke Messer
Sponsor: Dennis K. Kruse

Aug 15, 2006

HEA 1380 Various Economic Development Areas

This piece of special interest legislation should offend Libertarians at many points throughout its incoherent and random array of handouts. The bill, authored by Kokomo Republican John Smith, provides that certain transactions occurring after December 31, 2006, and before January 1, 2009, involving tangible personal property are exempt from sales tax if the person acquiring the property acquires it for the person’s direct use in the production of a motion picture. It also removes the January 1, 2008, deadline for making investments in machinery, equipment, or special purpose buildings used to make motion pictures or audio productions that are eligible for the Hoosier Business Investment Tax Credit. Finally, it further extends the deadline by which an investment must be made in order to be eligible for the HBITC. It begs the question, “Which friend or campaign donor of which legislator wants to invest in a movie so badly that he/she believes himself/herself to be entitled to a taxpayer subsidy and which movie is it?” That particular movie project sn't the only recipient of corporate welfare. The bill also shovels money towards someone’s special interest by allowing that farm mutual insurance companies, but not other companies -- even other insurance companies -- may elect taxation under the gross premium tax. Someone must also have an interest in a farmer’s insurance company.

Author: John Smith
Sponsor: David C. Ford

HEA 1220 Professional Investigation Funds

This bill establishes that architects, landscapers, land surveyors and professional engineers must pay a fee at the time of issuance or renewal of licenses into an investigative fund. In effect, law abiding business people are being forced to subsidize investigations in their own industry. Why not put costs of investigation onto those that actually commit the crime rather than arbitrarily making the cost of entry higher for honest, young professionals while raising the cost of services to consumers? Making innocent people pay for the crimes of the guilty is not a good way to promote an industry, to ensure accountability nor to spur economic growth in that area.

Aug 8, 2006

SEA 193 Controlled Substances

Pharmacists and cold sufferers have become the newest innocent casualties in the war on drugs. In a blatant invasion of the privacy of lawful buyers and sellers, the legislature now requires pharmacists to keep a log of all buyers of any product containing ephedrine or pseudo-ephedra, chemicals commonly found in over-the-counter medications such as cough syrup and everyday pain relievers. Law enforcement officers can inspect, on demand, the log of any pharmacist and the new law allows the Indiana Criminal Justice Department to obtain log statistics. The government can now monitor you simply because you buy cough medicine. The law also classifies the possession of two or more precursors with intent to manufacture methamphetamine a class D felony. Intent is a vague, ambiguous, and hard to prove standard to prosecute someone. Most everyone owns two or more precursors since precursors include cough syrup, caffeine pills and gasoline. So we’ve put ourselves in a position where, at a police officer’s discretion, felony arrests can be made based on ownership of everyday household products.

Authors: Richard D. Bray & Lindel O. Hume
Sponsor: Ralph M. Foley

SEA 247 Homeland Security

The excesses of the Homeland Security Administration have come to Indiana. Since its inception shortly after September 11, 2001, the department has consistently overstepped the bounds of privacy, decency and the Constitution. This new Indiana law brings the Department of Homeland Security to our own back yards. Not only do all Americans have to worry about wire-tapping, warrantless searches, no-knock warrants, the USA Patriot Act, and indefinite imprisonment without trial, but now Hoosiers will be asked to subsidize their very own Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Council. These agencies will be charged with combating the specter of terrorism with the very same unconstitutional methods that the Federal DHS uses and will have its records exempted from the open records law, eliminating all semblance of accountability in the system. This critical blow to the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendment rights of Indiana residents also includes a provision granting the Department of Corrections the ability to read prisoners’ mail.

Author: Thomas J. Wyss
Sponsor: William J. Ruppel

Jul 31, 2006

HEA 1124 Rainy Day Fund

A new Indiana law authorizes a loan from the State Rainy Day Fund of up to $13,000,000 for any taxing unit whose property tax revenue is affected by the bankruptcy of a taxpayer that manufactures microelectronics. If you think this provision seems awfully arbitrary and exclusive, you’re not alone. The bill was authored by Republican lawmaker James Buck of Kokomo. Ironically, Mr. Buck is chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. Interestingly enough, the Howard County city has just experienced this particular phenomenon with the October 8, 2005 bankruptcy announcement of local microelectronics giant Delphi Delco Electronics, already the recipient of over $875,000 in two years from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Due to the Political clout of Representative Buck, Howard County receives Department of Workforce Development subsidies that are nearly three times the per worker awards of the next highest counties and over six times the statewide average. This special interest pork appropriations law comes directly out of the pockets of all Hoosiers.

Author: James Russell Buck
Sponsor: Jeff Drozda

HEA 1010 Eminent Domain

In the much-publicized 2005 case, Kelo v. City of New London Connecticut, the Supreme Court upheld the rights of Federal, State and local Governments to take property from private land owners and award it to other private owners, provided they award compensation. This expansion of government's power over its people far beyond the scope of the 5th amendment sent shockwaves through liberty-minded Americans. Finally, Indiana has joined the growing number of states, which, faced with a US Supreme Court that refuses to enforce the Constitution, has taken the task upon itself. Although we do not believe that HEA 1010 goes far enough in protecting the rights of property owners, it is a vast improvement over the previous situation, for which we heartily applaud the State of Indiana. The bill limits the government’s right to take property in the following ways: 1) It requires the government to demonstrate evidence of its appraisal to the landowner, and enter into good faith negotiations; 2) awards the property owner compensation at trial, including attorney’s fees if he/she sues and the court finds in his/her favor; 3) Requires payment of additional damages beyond the value of the property, such as business loss; 4) Lastly and most importantly, it specifies that eminent domain may be used only to deliver essential services, and expressly prohibits taking for the sole purpose of increasing the tax base of an area. The law also prohibits a state agency from requiring the removal of a lawfully erected sign as a condition for a license or permit, and prohibits libraries and cemeteries from exercising eminent domain. These are all provisions that will undoubtedly be beneficial to the people of Indiana in their fight against the ever-expanding power of the government. We applaud Indiana’s willingness to take a stand on this issue.

Author: David Alan Wolkins
Sponsor: Richard D. Bray

Jul 17, 2006

SEA 205 Disclosure of Electronic Mail Account Addresses

We applaud the Indiana Legislature for this measure, which protects the privacy of Hoosiers. It provides that a public agency need not create or distribute to lists of email accounts in most cases, and in many cases may not. It also prohibits agencies or businesses from inspecting confidential records. In a time when America seems to be moving more and more toward a disregard of privacy rights, it is refreshing to see Indiana standing up for those rights. The internet is an anonymous forum for the exchange of information. It is just about the only anonymity we have left. We are glad that Indiana, at least, has seen fit to preserve that, even if the Federal Government won’t. The Bush Administration and members of both major parties in Congress could learn a great deal by looking to Indiana’s example.

Author: JEff Drozda
Sponsor: Eric Koch

HEA 1232 Curfew

Allows a child to be in a public place after curfew if the child is participating in an activity undertaken at the prior written direction of the child’s parent, guardian or custodian. It is not the Government’s responsibility to baby-sit children, especially not the State Government. It is egregious enough that local communities are passing these laws, taking responsibility for children out of the hands of parents, but now the State Government is getting involved. The State Legislature has no right to tell you where your children can and can’t be after a certain time. Requiring parents to be responsible for their own children is a step in the right direction but requiring written permission is an imposition on individual parents that the government has absolutely no right to make. This law should offend Libertarians on two levels: first the proper role of government is being trespassed in initiating a curfew on law-abiding citizens in the first place; secondly the State Government has overstepped its federalized boundaries by interfering with and amending local laws. This is a travesty.

Author: Ralph Ayres
Sponsor: Richard D. Bray

Jul 12, 2006

HEA 1155 Sex Offenders

It’s hard to feel bad for convicted sex offenders. They have committed terrible crimes on our most innocent and vulnerable. But even for society’s most undesirable members we must draw some line of privacy rights and human dignity. The 2005 Indiana Sex Offenders law, on top of the already existing public Sex Offenders Registry, requires offenders to notify law enforcement if he/she will be absent from his/her home for more than 72 hours. If the offender is living in temporary housing he/she must register every seven days and requires law enforcement to personally visit the residence. While we recognize that these crimes are very serious, it seems as though a person who has paid the price and spent what society considers to be an appropriate amount of time in prison, has paid his/her debt to society. To then compel that person to spend the rest of his/her life without any privacy borders on Big Brother. In addition, the use of law enforcement and bureaucracy to process these offenders and visit their homes when they could be out preventing new crime is inefficient, unsafe and a waste of taxpayer money.

Author: Mary Kay Budak
Sonsor: David C. Long

HEA 1049 Controlled Substance Crimes and Child Neglect

Child neglect is a very serious crime. No one wants to see children neglected. New Indiana legislation now qualifies some neglect as worse than other neglect, based not on the effect on the victim but on the motive or circumstances of the perpetrator. Evidently, the Indiana Legislature considers a child neglected by parents who are alcoholic, disinterested, intentionally hateful, or for a host of other reasons to be less injured than children who are neglected by a parent who runs a meth lab. I think the victims would disagree. All children deserve protection, not just those whose personal tragedy happens to play into lawmakers’ politically driven meth-crusade agenda. The new Indiana Law on Controlled Substances makes the crime of neglect of a dependent a class C felony if and only if: 1) it results from the manufacture of cocaine, methamphetamine or a narcotic drug; or 2) is committed in an area where cocaine, methamphetamine or a narcotic drug is being manufactured, delivered or financed. Child neglect is a terrible crime. Perhaps Class C felony is the appropriate charge for such a heinous crime. But what is it about the setting that makes it worse just because it involves a drug lab? Neglect is neglect and just because a parent neglects his/her children in a home that does not manufacture drugs does not make it excusable. That child is no less injured. This is similar to hate crime legislation, which in many states specifies an added penalty to a crime based on its motives. The Supreme Court ruled one such Minnesota law unconstitutional in the 1992 R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul. Crimes should be punished for their results, not their motives.

LPIN Legislative Center Returns

The LPIN Legislative Center returns shortly to the blogosphere with our weekly postings reviewing laws that went into effect following the 2006 legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly. Some we like; some we hate; most are just not necessary. You be the judge.

Check back weekly as the new reviews are posted.

Mar 11, 2006

HB1008 -- Major Moves -- Action Needed!

Calling all libertarians -- Quick Fix's Major Screws bill is still working its way through committee. It's a rough road. What was once viewed as an unstoppable piece of poor legislation is coming under fire now from L's, D'r and a few R's. Winona Lake Republican Dave Wolkins has already come out against the bill and should open the door for a handful of other northern Indiana R's to break ranks.

At issue: Evansville R's don't want the new terrain I-69 route changed. Indy R's want the route to not go through heavily populated Perry Township. To toll or not is a real issue with southern Indiana R's. Indy to Bloomington Republicans won't sign on if that stretch of the new terrain I-69 is tolled. Further south, they'll be screaming if they get tolls and the middle doesn't. And, of course, up north 80% of the residents disapprove. LaPorte Rep. Budak was quoted in Indy press saying, "If it costs me the election, so be it." We agree....so be it.

Call your legislator Monday! We need to get word out.

STATUS: Somewhere between becoming horrible law and dying.

SB321 -- Skills 2016 -- Position Reversal

OPPOSE: Senate Majority and House Minority Leadership opted to continue their assault on small business with their decision not to exempt small business from mandatory funding of the Skills 2016 fund. The proposal would have exempted employers with fewer than 20 employees from contributing to this worker training fund. These companies will never have an opportunity to access this money. The joint committee ironing out details found a way to iron away the real benefit in this one. Truly shameful. Small business owners of Indiana unite!

STATUS: Destroyed by legislators....anyone surprised?

Mar 7, 2006

Public Health Bills Survey Results

We can't claim a resounding scientifically accurate poll, but 80% of our respondents shot down the two proposed bills sitting in the Committee for Public Health.

SB284 - Statewide Trauma System - While few would disagree that a better system is needed, the problem with supporting this proposed legislation is the long-term government control of the project. Help get it started and step back. We don't need more government agencies regulating private industry. STATUS: Passed both House and Senate. In conference committee working out differences.

SB270 - Family Social Services Matters - No one seemed to like this one. Just as well, as it looks to be dead in committee. Just don't turn our backs...it could come back! STATUS: Appears to be killed in Committee.

SB321 -- Skills 2016

SUPPORT: This is the language from HB1142 which was supported earlier in the session. It was folded into SB321 when it did not get out of the House committee. SB321 exempts employers with fewer than 20 employees from payment of Skills 2016 Training Fund assessments. This training fund is not a tool for small business growth. It is merely a subsidy charged small business owners to support big business and big box company attraction efforts. This bill will keep millions of dollars in small business owners businesses. What a concept! Call your legislator today to support this.

STATUS: Passed House and Senate. In conference committee to iron out details of chamber differences.

Mar 1, 2006

HB1010 - Eminent Domain Update

Amendments: True to form, LPIN can agree with the general direction, but the devil's in the details. Senate dealt with seven amendments to Rep. Wolkins' eminent domain bill. Of the seven, five passed. Of those five amendment, LPIN supported only one and that was just mild support. Of the two that failed, LPIN would liked to have seen one pass and was indifferent on the other. Passing amendments: 3, 5, 6, 10 and 11. Failing amendments: 2 and 8.

Just when we think our legislators will do the right thing.......

STATUS: Passed Senate 49-0 with unfavorable amendments. Back to House.

SB333 -- Government Over-licensing

OPPOSE: Eric Miller's Advance America got this one right. The webpage reads, "Churches and Christian Schools should not be licensed by the government!" So, how do we end up with different conclusions to SB333? Advance America says "support this." But, the reality is the government should not be licensing many of the business and organizational efforts covered in this mammoth bill. The bill extends government reach from barber shops to manufactured housing installers. And, where they increase licensing for some, they decrease licensing for others. Mr. Miller, where's the equity in this bill? Stand by the LPIN and fight for more equal treatment of all businesses, not just a special interest group.

STATUS: Passed Senate 50-0. Amended in House five times, up for full House vote.

Feb 27, 2006

HB1010 -- Eminent Domain Senate Vote Today

The full senate is hearing the HB1010. If passed, it will go back to the House for consideration of the Senate amendments. And, there are a few amendments proposed.

1010-1 Indifferent. Deals with sewage disposal company. Probably not a bad thing to simply clarify.
1010-2 Support. Makes eminent domain use stricter for sewage disposal companies.
1010-3 Mildly against. Sets a limit on signage lost through eminent domain use rather than possible full cost recovery. Not a major point, though.
1010-4 Indifferent. Addresses timelines for court proceedings related to eminent domain cases.
1010-5 Mildly support. Sen. Drozda proposes changing language from "publicly owned venues" to "parks". He's been an opponent of eminent domain abuse. We've got to believe this is a good thing.
1010-6 Against. Sets limits on legal fees allowed to recoup from condemnor if ruled against in court. The stiffer the potential penalty the more hesitant someone will be in trying to use eminent domain.
1010-7 Strongly Against. Sen. Broden proposes that greenfield sites be viewed differently. If, for example, a company would like to develop some farmland and has acquired at least 75% of the land needed, the rules for acquiring the remainder are much less strict. Sorry, Senator, bud "this land is my land...."
1010-8 Indifferent. More sewage disposal company language.
1010-9 Against. Sen. Broden's second attempt for stealing farmland. I guess just in case his first attempt doesn't work.
1010-10 Against. Hmmm.... Sen. Broden's third attempt for stealing farmland. I guess just in case his second attempt doesn't work. He's a persistent son of a gun, isn't he?
1010-11 Against. Amendment wants to allow exception be given to "certified technology parks". I'm sure everything would become a technology park if this were to pass. Say no.

Feb 24, 2006

HB1190 -- Direct Wine Sales

OPPOSE: We oppose this as it's written, but totally killing some effort to protect a local industry is even more irresponsible. Legislation should be offered at no cost to the State, that protects an industry rather than threatening it. Wineries should maintain their ability to sell and ship direct to customers without being required to go through a middle man who will trim the wineries' margins, bulk up their own and control what product the public can access. The loser in this are the "Buy Indiana" wine drinkers that enjoy an occasional local treat.

We have a governor claiming to want to grow businesses across the state. We have a legislature and local governments that encourage public financial incentives for the smallest of projects.

Yet, the legislature would like us to now penalize a small, but successful cottage industry of Indiana wineries by limiting their long-established practice of direct sales to customers. Of course, this is at the hands of the longer-established distribution companies that have a stranglehold on alcohol sales channels. It's enough to make Joe Kennedy proud.

In its latest legislative twist, Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton is not going to allow the bill to advance. Rather, he prefers to put this back in the courts where nine Indiana wineries are challenging a government order not allowing them to ship in-state.

Status: Passed House 60-36. In Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure. Killed for now by Sen. Garton.

Feb 23, 2006

Update -- HB1010 - Eminent Domain

Rep. David Wolkins kindly phoned the office today with an update on HB1010, his legislation to make eminent domain abuses a practice of the past. (Well, at least until Quick Fix and Indy Mayor Peterson squeeze out the NK Hurst company....then the legislation can take effect.) He noted in the phone message that they have a handful of amendments on the table for a Monday session. He was pretty neutral on the changes and I concur they don't appear to be anything that would change the tone nor purpose of this bill. We'll still watch for those changes.

Kudos to Wolkins for taking this on this session -- now if we could only have him look clearly at the terms of the toll road sale -- oh, sorry, that's a lease. Oh, wait, it's a "sale" that just looks like a "lease."

Feb 21, 2006

SB47 -- Free Criminal Background Checks for Religious Organizations

OPPOSE: The taxpayers should not carry the financial burden for staffing decisions made by not-for-profit and religious organizations. SB47, authored by Sen. Hershman and passed out of the Senate 48-1, provides exactly that. It provides for free background checks on potential employees and volunteers. If background checks are prohibitively expensive, maybe we should revisit their costs for all interested parties.

Status: Passed Senate 48-1; passed out of House Committee 11-0; up for full House.

House Committee for Public Health

The House Committee for Public Health is hearing two Senate bills today with the option of amending and voting on each. Both, whether well-intended or not, seem to create more levels of bureaucracy or mask the purpose and intent. Libertarian? Support? Oppose? You tell me.

Take the polls for the following two bills under consideration on our Liberty Beacon Yahoo! Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lpin

SB270 -- Family Social Service Agency Matters
Smoke and mirrors? This bill proposes the name of the program change from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Temporary would be nice, but the bill goes on to remove the "prompt and diligent efforts to verify information in indigent care applications" language. We all understand the staff at FSSA is overworked and under-appreciated. While we commend the jobs they do, should the government be providing a path to least resistance in handing out public dollars? Also, the bill authored by Senator Miller requires state staff to seek an exemption of copayments at the time of treatment for non-emergency services delivered at hospital emergency rooms. This passed out of the Senate 50-0.

Read the full text of the bill and see the action on SB270.


SB284 -- Statewide Trauma System
This bill establishes a statewide trauma system under the authority of the Indiana Department of Health. It authorizes the Department of Health to "adopt" rules concerning the trauma system. "Adopt" or "impose"? It would seem that a private network of hospitals could arrange this with the government's brokerage, not oversight and "authority". OH, this passed the Senate 50-0, also. What's this we hear about bi-partisan battles at the Statehouse?

Read the full text of the bill and see the action on SB284.

Sign on or join our Yahoo! group and take the polls on these bills. Results will be posted later this week.

Feb 17, 2006

Session Out Until Next Week

Look for next week to be a big week with legislation moving through committees at a much faster rate than the last two weeks. Quick Fix will have wrapped up his northern Indiana tour touting his "Major Screws" bill, HB1008. It still sits in the Senate and should get some more attention next week.

We should still keep our eye out for the Association of Cities and Towns legislative components to work their way into a bill. This stuff is evil...let's stay on top of it.

Feb 14, 2006

HB1010 -- Eminent Domain Moves On

Excellent news from the Senate today. HB1010 exited its committee unanimously today with two minor adjustments -- good ones at that. The Senate added that private cemeteries could not exercise eminent domain, as they are allowed currently. And, libraries must now seek city council, or governing board, permission in their efforts. The bill is voted on in the full Senate as early as tomorrow, then returns for a vote in the House with consideration given to the amendments.

Feb 13, 2006

Session Update -- LPIN Positions

BILLS SUPPORTED:

HB1010 -- Eminent Domain -- Passed the House and is still sitting in committee. We need to call our Senators and let them know to take action on HB1010 as the House submitted it (or even stronger language would be nice).

HB1142 -- Skills 2016 -- Sitting in Senate committee. No action yet.

SB0117 -- Tobacco Incentives -- Passed out of House committee. Moving forward without amendments.

HB1113 -- Food Service Tort Reform -- In Senate committee. No action yet.

BILLS OPPOSED:

SB0037 -- Election Reform -- Passed out of Senate 50-0. Sitting in House committee.

SB0127 -- Campaign Reform -- Passed out of Senate 50-0. Sitting in House committee.

SB 0088 -- Seat Belts -- Passed out of House 26 - 21. Sitting in House committee.

HB1008 -- Major Moves -- Passed out of House on party line vote. In Senate committee.


We need to keep watching these and contact our legislators. The partyline R votes are quite annoying and northern Indiana republicans may come to regret this blind support at the polls in November.

We expect components of the HB1400 or HB1399 to surface in any one of a handful property tax bills that passed out of committee. With "Major Moves" slowing in Senate committee, some attention from the over-reaching property tax reform bills are not being discussed as much. Sen. Kenley has held up the closest thing to good legislation in HB1001, authored by Rep. Espich. However, there's plenty of time for special interests -- particularly the cronies associated with Indiana Association of Cities and Towns -- to build in their increased taxes. Be aware!

Feb 8, 2006

HB1142 -- Training Fund Assessment

SUPPORT: A victory for the small business owners came packaged in HB1142. The bill exempts employers with fewer than 20 employees from payment of the Skills 2016 Traning Fund assessments. The program, never utilized by these small businesses, previously required them to pay an assessment and file additional paperwork with the state. Apparently 45 Democrats like the idea of the government stealing from these small business owners as the vote barely passed out of the House in a party line vote, 51-45.

STATUS: Passed out of House. Referred to Senate Committee on Pensions and Labor. Sen. Young sponsoring.

HB1113 -- Obesity Liability Protection

SUPPORT: Rep. Ralph Foley has impressed us yet again. Foley authored HB1113 which grants immunity from civil liability for those in the food and beverage industry if they are faced with a claim concerning weight gain, obesity or a health condition associated with weight gain or obesity that likely resulted from the long term consumption of certain foods or beverages. Legislating personal accountability? It's a shame we have to go there, but it's nice to see our legislators providing some common sense shield to potential nusiance lawsuits.

STATUS: Passed House 76-21. Assigned to Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters, Sen. Bray sponsoring.

Feb 7, 2006

SB127 -- Campaign Finance Reform

OPPOSE: This bill essentially protects incumbents from open speech and fair criticism. The fact that the Senate passed this 50-0 should scare everyone of us. The bill no longer allows a related group of individuals to form a political action committee. It also provides for increased paperwork requirements for an individual or group with deep pockets who would like to point out the misbehavior of our elected officials. I guess if you can't stifle free speech, why not bureaucratize it?

STATUS: Passed Senate 50-0. Referred to House Committee on Elections and Apportionment.

SB117 -- Workplace Incentives for Curbing Tobacco Use

SUPPORT: What's amazing is we need a bill in our General Assembly to state that an employer is allowed to offer financial incentives to employees as an enticement to stop smoking. While it's crazy we would need the government to allow something that just makes sense, so long as it's necessary, we support it. Private incentives to stop versus prohibition of a legal substance? We choose incentives every time.

STATUS: Passed out of Senate. Sponsored by Rep. T. Brown in House. Assigned to Committee on Employment and Labor.

Feb 4, 2006

HB1400 -- "Hometown Matters" government consolidation

INFORMATION: HB1400 which was first paraded in front of the world at a morning press conference in Gov. Daniels' office did not make it through the House committees. This evil legislation which essentially directs counties to create a local option income tax, raise food and beverage, innkeepers and sales taxes, AND allows for a property tax levy is not dead. The bill is also controversial in that it eliminates levels of elected officials. While libertarians are split on exactly what the definition of "smaller and more local" government may be, this bill was not the answer. The way Rep. Whetstone authored this under the guidance of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns essentially gives local governments a small perk for allowing the state to push their underfunded programing down to a "local" level. The great State is not removing any of its taxes to compensate for the increased local taxes. Look for this to come back in as additions to a Senate bill. We'll continue to track this and offer our position in more detail as this takes better shape. In any form, it's not looking very good for lower taxation and government fiscal control. Can you say "tax and spend Republican?"

Feb 1, 2006

HB 1008 -- "Major Screws" Passes House

Watch out House Republicans from the northern counties. In a disappointing party-line vote today, the Indiana House passed HB 1008, the "Major Screws" proposal championed by Governor Daniels. A very brave LaGrange County Senator Meeks has picked this up as sponsor. Perhaps LaGrange County Senator Meeks and his followers have little regard for the legacy they leave their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to quickly accept such a chancey deal for their future.

Jan 26, 2006

Update -- Libertarian Supported Bills Move On

SB054 -- Handgun Licensing, passed out of committee.
HB1010 -- Eminent Domain, passed out of House unanimously. Sen. Bray sponsors.
HB1017 -- Appraisers, passed out of House slightly amended.
HB1114 -- Passed out of House. Sen. Steele sponsors.

SB0100 -- Raffles

SUPPORT: Finally makes getting that raffle license for a political candidate or party much easier. Of course, it's capped at five a year, but who needs more than five television prizes? Seriously, SB 100, authored by our friend, Bob Jackman of Milroy, frees up candidates and committees to hold raffles as fund-raisers throughout an election cycle. I'd much rather purchase a raffle ticket than allow special interests to have greater influence. Good for Jackman and here's to a quick reocovery from his health scare last week.

STATUS: Out of committee and on to full senate.

SB0088 -- Seat Belts

STRONGLY OPPOSE: SB 88 is another attempt to put seat belts on all passengers in a vehicle from a car to the space shuttle. OK, it doesn't list a space shuttle -- and probably a good idea to use one in a shuttle. In fact, it's smart to wear one when you're in a vehicle. But, Sen. Wyss, do you really want our police to spend time checking seat belt infractions while our community leaders are worried about real crimes? Please, Mr. Senator, let's get our priorities straight. Say NO to Click It or Ticket!

STATUS: Passed Senate 26 - 21. Picked up in House by Crouch, Welch, Lawson and Brown.

Jan 24, 2006

HB1008 -- Major Moves

STRONGLY OPPOSE: Libertarians opposing user fees and privatization? In this case, we have no choice. Governor Daniels' plan to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years to a private interest is simply too great a cost to justify the list of infrastructure treats his office claims will result from this move. A slight increase in current tolls, expansion into toll roads across the state, and select Express toll lanes or truck toll lanes could accomplish quite a lot. And, we would not have sold out our great-grandchildren to accomplish it. In his zeal to do everything Democrats luckily could not accomplish in sixteen years, we would hope the governor steps back and realizes what is truly necessary, what is equitable across the state and what is the real cost to Indiana in the future. We're confident even he would change his mind on "Major Moves."

STATUS: House Rule 106.1 suspended.

HB1010 -- Eminent Domain

Update: With 90% of our polling respondents supporting our position on HB1010, it's important to note its changes. Rep. Robertson got an amendment passed restricting small utilities rights to exercise eminent domain. Great job. Rep. Hinkle, a leading cheerleader for the governor's land grab against the N.K. Hurst Company, surprisingly watered this one down with payment caps for relocation expenses for displaced families. He uses language such as "not to exceed." Way to look out for the little guy, Hinkle.

STATUS: Still being amended on House floor.

SB0067 -- Animal Cruelty

Sentimentally Support: Sen. Lanane must know that most people like animals more than other people -- especially major party legislators. He suggests the courts be allowed to order counseling for convicted instigators of animal cruelty. We'd prefer a shooting range be allowed, but some tortuous Lassie and Flipper movies could serve as just punishment.

STATUS: In Committee on Judiciary.

SB0037 -- Election Reform?

STRONGLY OPPOSE: From what appears to simply tidy up some election housekeeping comes an alarming wake-up call to third party and independent candidates. Introduced by the census data advisory committee, this bill provides that a vacancy in a legislative office last held by someone other than a Republican or Democrat must be filled through a special election. Why would they not allow Libertarians the same privilege they share of appointing replacements?

Another alarming component of this packed 84-page bill extends the expiration date for "certain" counties to receive reimbursements for voting equipment. Now folks, there's no excuse for this one. The majority of counties were able to make decisions and implement necessary changes. For the counties that missed the deadline, let them stand accountable and not simply look away from their mismanagement.

STATUS: Passed out committee to full Senate vote.

Jan 23, 2006

Polling -- Liberty Beacon

Taking pride in the differences among our own supporters has always been a defining trait of Libertarian Party members. Is a position taken "libertarian enough" or is there such a thing dominates discussion groups? The argument of dogmatic belief in the libertarian philosophy versus pragmatic incremental change has been at the heart of our most entertaining, yet frustrating, debates. Recognizing that libertarians walk in the same direction, but not always lockstep is critical for our party growth.

Bringing legislative issues to our membership has shown we have some differences. Does a landlord's rights to his property trump those property rights of a tenant and his personal possessions? Is there ever a legitimate use of eminent domain? There are many shades of "charcoal" -- not light gray -- we consider on a daily basis.

As a trial last week, a poll was published on our Liberty Beacon Yahoo! group. The results? More than 90% of our respondants agree with our position on eminent domain. But what about the others? From time to time, as we receive feedback, we will put up for polling our party stands on issues. This is your chance to agree or disagree. When necessary, we will offer up majority and minority views on our http://www.lpin.org website.

In the meantime, if you want to be a party to our polling, join our Yahoo! group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lpin. For current polls, simply go to the polling section on the main page of the group.

In liberty,
Dan Drexler
Executive Director
Libertarian Party of Indiana

Jan 20, 2006

SB0054 -- Handgun Licensing

SUPPORT: Senator Nugent knows what his constituency wants -- less government hassles. He has authored SB0054 which provides that handgun license renewals may be done electronically. To see the latecomers sign on as co-authors certainly speaks to Nugent's correct read on this issue.

STATUS: In Committee on Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters.

HB1084 -- Property Tax Deduction for Commercial Golf Courses

OPPOSE: How many school officials would enjoy knowing that the loss of property taxes and subsequent budget cuts came at the hands of legislation allowing commercial golf courses to receive property tax deductions if they allow elementary or secondary school students to play at no charge? With the federal No Child Left Behind policy in place, does author Rep. Bischoff suggest refining the law to include No Child Misses the Cut? This is time-wasting legislation and irresponsible on Bischoff's part.

STATUS: In Committee on Ways and Means.

Jan 19, 2006

HB1010 -- Eminent Domain

STRONGLY SUPPORT: Far from perfect, it's a great first step put forth by Reps. Wolkins, Foley and Grubb. Prior to the ruckus created by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Kelo case, Rep. Wolkins was advocating for stronger eminent domain language. It's a state's decision how to handle the issue and the stronger the language the better for libertarians. HB1010 provides for protection of taking land for the private use of another party, sets just compensation for property taken for prevailing uses, sets time limits on the progress of projects in which eminent domain was exercised, and sets penalities where timelines are not met. It falls short by exempting the Indiana Department of Transportation in some instances and lends itself to loopholes in this area. However, kudos to these legislators for pushing this forward. It deserves our support.

STATUS: Passed out of Committee on Judiciary to full House.

HB1051 -- Landlords' Rights

SUPPORT: Representatives Hoffman and Koch must be landlords. The proposed legislation allows a landlord to take possession and dispose of a delinquent tenant's remaining property if the tenant has not paid rent in fifteen days or occupied the property during this time. Terms apply for terminated rental agreements and court ordered removal of property.

STATUS: In Committee on Judiciary.

HB1017 -- Property Appraisers

SUPPORT: In certain cases, particularly the sale of some government-owned parcels, Representatives Welch and Harris propose that subjective criteria for selecting a three-member panel be changed to require three disinterested parties, with two of them being certified appraisers. Certainly not the most pressing issue facing the legislature, but seems like a reasonable proposal.

STATUS: Passed out of Committee on Financial Institutions to full House.

HB1114 -- Social Security Number/Identify Protection

SUPPORT: Rep. Foley continues to charm libertarians on property rights issues. The bill addresses various housekeeping issues. The primary reason for support is the addition of a culpability standard that must be met by a county recorder's office when releasing documents containing Social Security numbers. Also, streamlines the ability of the recorder's office to process documents more timely.

STATUS: Passed out of House. Senator Steele sponsoring in Senate.

HB1354 -- Tax Breaks to Motion Picture and Recording Industries

OPPOSE: No. 1354 provides an unnecesary tax break to a special interest industry. Rep. Lutz proposes that the motion picture and audio recording industries receive exemptions from sales tax on the purchase of goods for the direct use of the business. Unremarkably, the most profitable side of the motion picture business -- obscene movies -- are excluded from the exemption. Oppose on the grounds of special interest incentives, not the exclusion of obscene movies.

STATUS: In Committee on Ways and Means.

Introduction to the LPIN Legislative Center


With the volume of bills passing through committees in both the Indiana House and Senate, it is more pressing than ever that we communicate our thoughts on these policy issues clearly to our supporters and general public.

This blog will be a clearinghouse for our legislative insights, support and opposition. From time to time, we will pass out our kudos to those public officials who uphold our libertarian principles and jeers to those who undermine our liberties and true role of government.

This forum is to simply share our policy positions. Comments on postings has been suspended. If you would like to comment on a position, please contact LPIN headquarters at lpinhq@lpin.org or comment on any number of the libertarian blogs and message boards online.

I hope you will check this blog regularly and use this as a tool in your own community. The issues that will be spotlighted will further our advocacy efforts in areas of property rights, property tax reform and small business support.



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