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
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