Jan 15, 2009

SB 237 -- False Informing and DNA Collection

SYNOPSIS: Requires all persons arrested after June 30, 2009, to submit a DNA sample. Makes knowingly providing false information during an official law enforcement investigation a crime. Makes conforming amendments.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: Yikes! This legislation would move us several steps closer to a police state while providing for more and more opportunity for corruption. LPIN rejects the mandatory sampling of DNA for convicted persons. This legislation would be expanded to all persons arrested.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Merritt, referred to Committee on Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters.

HB 1420 -- Teacher Recruitment Program

SYNOPSIS: Establishes the teacher recruitment program and fund: (1) to encourage and promote qualified African American and Hispanic male teachers to pursue a career in teaching in accredited schools in Indiana; (2) to enhance the number of individuals who may serve as role models for African American and Hispanic students in Indiana; and (3) to rectify the shortage of African American and Hispanic male teachers teaching in accredited schools in Indiana. Requires the state student assistance commission to administer the fund.

OPPOSE: Few can deny there's a need for more male teachers in our schools. While this legislation tries to focus on recruitment of African-American and Hispanic male teachers, it falls short on one key aspect -- recruitment. The bill allows for a $4,000 award for a qualifying African-American or Hispanic male teacher in his second full year of teaching. He's already there, already teaching, already serving as a role model. There are more reasons consistent with libertarian views on education to oppose this legislation, but a very basic one is it misses its own mark.

STATUS: Authored by Rep. V. Smith, referred to Committee on Education.

HB 1457 -- Invasive Species

SYNOPSIS: Establishes the invasive species council (council) within the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Establishes the invasive species council fund. Requires the council to establish a cooperative weed management program to protect the diversity of natural areas in Indiana to: (1) promote the creation of cooperative weed management areas; and (2) create partnerships that create opportunities for contiguous landowners to work together in the management of invasive plants that threaten natural lands and native biological diversity. Establishes a project workgroup to recommend cooperative weed management plans to the council. Establishes the cooperative weed management fund. Staggers the initial terms of the appointed council members.

OPPOSE: What? We need legislation to create a partnership that creates opportunities for neighbors to work together in managing their weeds? What? However silly that may sound, the real reason for opposition to this legislation is in the fiscal impact statement. The bill does not specify sources of revenue for the fund. The bill contains no appropriation for the fund. So why create something that can't survive....kind of an invasive species itself, yes?

STATUS: Authored by Rep. Kersey, referred to Committee on Natural Resources.

HB 1493 -- Manufacture of Flags Used in Public Buildings

SYNOPSIS: Provides an absolute purchasing preference for United States and Indiana flags manufactured in the United States. Provides that if there are no flags manufactured in the United States that meet the specifications of the purchasing agent, the purchasing agent may purchase flags manufactured outside the United States.

SUPPORT/NEUTRAL: Why not, right? It is the symbol of our State and Nation, why not require the flags on display in public buildings be manufactured in the United States, or at least require preference be given to those products. It may end up costing a little more, but that's not all bad.

Authored by Representative Bischoff, referred to Committee on Small Business and Economic Development.

HB 1506 -- School Board Members

SYNOPSIS: Provides that a vacancy is created in the governing body of a school corporation when a member moves out of the school district from which the member was elected or appointed.

SUPPORT: It stands to reason that if move away from a district you represent, you should step down from that seat. Unfortunately, our elected officials don't enjoy giving up what little power they've accumulated -- school board members foremost among these officials. While disproving residency is very tricky, the legislation remains a good attempt at keeping representation local.

STATUS: Authored by Rep. GiaQuinta, referred to Committee on Elections and Apportionment.

HB 1512 -- Silver Alert

SYNOPSIS: Creates the silver alert program to inform the public about missing endangered adults. Defines "missing endangered adult" as an individual who is over 65 years of age and has Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Renames the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children as the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children and missing endangered adults (clearinghouse). Requires the clearinghouse to operate the amber alert program and the silver alert program. Makes conforming changes.

SUPPORT: With few exceptions, the Amber Alert has provided a service to our society and helped in reducing the cost of finding missing children by mobilizing the media and community. While uncommon, there seems to be significant increases in the instances of the elderly with Alzheimer's disease or dementia going missing. Folding the Silver Alert system into the existing Amber program is a service that appears to help families, community and agencies alike.

Authored by Rep. GiaQuinta, referred to Committee on Veterans Affairs and Public Safety.

SB 453 -- Use of Gold by State and Local Governments

SYNOPSIS: Use of gold by the state and local government. Requires the treasurer of state to designate one or more electronic gold currency payment providers to be a payment provider for the state and political subdivisions. Requires the treasurer of state and fiscal officers of political subdivisions to: (1) maintain one or more electronic gold currency accounts with a designated electronic gold currency payment provider; and (2) conduct all monetary transactions of the state or political subdivisions through electronic gold currency accounts. Provides that an electronic gold currency payment provider must use an electronic gold currency unit that constitutes a monetary unit of account and represents a claim of title to and ownership of a specifically defined, fixed weight of gold held by an independent specie vault. Specifies that a specie exchange with which an electronic gold currency payment provider associates must conduct the business of exchanging gold and silver coin, legal tender of the United States, and the electronic gold currency of the electronic gold currency payment provider. Provides that after December 31, 2009, the state and political subdivisions may not compel or require any person to recognize, receive, pay out, deliver, promise to pay, or otherwise use or employ anything but gold and silver coin (in that form or in the form of a designated electronic gold currency) as media of exchange with respect to certain payments. Provides that after December 31, 2009, a person receiving certain payments from the state or a political subdivision has the option of accepting payment in either legal tender of the United States or in electronic gold currency.

STRONGLY SUPPORT: We liked the idea when LPIN gubernatorial candidate proposed this at an October press conference. We liked it more when he talked about it during the debates. We liked the idea at a national level when Congressman Ron Paul championed this message on the campaign trail. Imagine a currency that has real value and the effect this move would have on stabilizing a very unstable economy.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Walker, referred to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy.

SB 479 -- Regional Transportation Districts

SYNOPSIS: Permits counties to establish a regional transportation district to plan, design, acquire, construct, enlarge, improve, renovate, maintain, equip, finance, operate, and support public transportation systems. Establishes a fee on vehicle registrations, and permits the creation of allocation areas, the establishment of a special allocation of county option income taxes, and the imposition of a food and beverage tax, a county economic development income tax, or a special benefits property tax to provide funding to regional transportation districts. Permits other public transportation agencies to merge into a regional transportation district. Requires the governor to appoint a deputy commissioner for the department of transportation to assist the commissioner with the public transportation responsibilities of the department.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: Regional taxation? Any legislation that creates and allows a government agency to "plan, design, acquire, construct, enlarge, improve, renovate, maintain, equip, finance, operation and support" CANNOT be good for the people. To pay for this, the regional authority would have a hand in COIT, F&B taxes, economic development income tax or a special benefits tax, in addition to a fee on vehicle registrations. No, no, no.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Lanane, referred to Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation & Veterans Affairs.

SB 511 -- Various Vehicle and Motorboat Laws

SYNOPSIS: Removes vehicles owned or leased and used for official business by certain: (1) rehabilitation centers; (2) community action agencies; (3) area agencies of aging and the aged and county councils on aging that are funded through an area agency; and (4) community mental health centers; from exemption from the payment of vehicle registration fees. Provides that a probationary operator's license expires at midnight of the date the holder becomes 21 years and 30 days of age. (Current law provides that the probationary license expires at midnight of the day of the holder's twenty-first birthday.) Removes the requirement that the bureau of motor vehicles place an identifying symbol on the face of the certain permits, licenses, or identification cards to indicate that the applicant has a medical condition. Provides that certain offenses committed under the law of the United States or in another state that are substantially similar to certain offenses committed in Indiana be counted toward an accumulation of offenses for purposes of an individual being adjudged a habitual violator of traffic laws. Includes motorboats in the category of vehicles for which an individual is prohibited from operating while intoxicated. Provides that after June 30, 2009, the penalties for operating a motorboat while intoxicated are the same as for operating a wheeled vehicle while intoxicated, and repeals current law pertaining to operating a motorboat while intoxicated. Makes corresponding changes. Makes technical corrections.

OPPOSE: This legislation is chockful of annoying tweaks to existing legislation, which is already aggressively adequate.

STATUS: Authored by Senator Charbonneau, referred to Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation & Veterans Affairs.

SB 220 -- Annexation (2)

SYNOPSIS: Provides, with certain exceptions, that when a municipality initiates an annexation, the municipality must file a petition with the court containing the signatures of: (1) at least 75% of the landowners in the territory proposed to be annexed; or (2) the owners of more than 75% in assessed valuation of the land in the annexed territory. Provides that, if the court finds that the petition has a sufficient number of signatures, a hearing will be conducted to review the annexation and fiscal plan. Allows a person to intervene as a party at the hearing to review the annexation and fiscal plan if: (1) the person is an owner of property in the territory; (2) the person, and no other owner of the property have signed the petition filed by the municipality; and (3) the person appeared at the hearing conducted by the municipality on the annexation ordinance or submitted a remonstrance or other document into the record of the hearing. Eliminates a procedure that requires the court to order an annexation not to take place if certain circumstances are shown. Removes provisions allowing a municipality to obtain waivers of a landowner's right to remonstrate against an annexation. Provides that in all circumstances an annexation becomes effective when the ordinance or judgment is filed by the municipal clerk.

SUPPORT: Part two of our annexation legislation for this session also provides some relief. In fact, this legislation puts more of the burden on the municipality attempting to annex the land. In this case, the municipality would be required to obtain 75% of the land owners (or assessed value holders) to sign off on the plan before the effort could move forward. Allowing the people to have a voice is a rather novel idea these days.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Gard, referred to Committee on Local Government.

SB 179 -- Annexation (1)

SYNOPSIS: Provides that a waiver or release of the right of remonstrance against annexation effective after June 30, 2009, expires ten years after the date the waiver or release is executed. Provides that in determining a municipality's levy limits for a particular ensuing calendar year, the cap on increased assessed value applies to all annexations of a municipality occurring in the particular ensuing calendar year. Reduces the number of signatures required on an annexation remonstrance petition from at least 65% of the owners of land in the annexed territory to at least 51% of the owners of land in the annexed territory. With certain exceptions: (1) requires a municipality to amend an annexation ordinance or fiscal plan before the public hearing on the annexation; and (2) prohibits a municipality from amending an annexation ordinance or fiscal plan after the public hearing on the annexation. Provides that if it is consistent with the municipality's policy of providing capital services to areas within the corporate boundaries, a municipality may provide less than all of the capital services to areas within the annexed territory.

SUPPORT: While we don't much approve of any type of forced annexation, at least this bill lowers the number of signatures required for a remonstrance to move forward from 65% of the owners of the land to just 51%. As our friends fighting annexation in Vanderburgh, Clark, Allen and Hamilton Counties know too well, any relief in this fight against our own governments is very, very welcomed.

STATUS: Authored by Senator Buck, referred to Committee on Local Government. Sens. Kruse and Gard added as authors.

Jan 13, 2009

SB 084 - Rename the Department of Workforce Development

SYNOPSIS: Rename department of workforce development. Changes the name of the department of workforce development to the department of unemployment insurance.

OPPOSE: While it may seem rather innocuous, the bigger question is "why the name change?" Financial analyst, Chuck Mayfield, writes in the Fiscal Impact Statement that "there could be some cost to changing signs and documents." He adds with no quantifiable dollars that this would likely be minimal. Let's see...business cards, letterhead, web presence, publications, pamphlets and forms....It certainly doesn't seem all that minor for a state that's cutting expenditures across the board.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Kruse, referred to Committee on Pensions and Labor.

SB 073 - University Lobbyists

SYNOPSIS: University lobbyists. Provides that, for purposes of the lobby registration law, the terms "public official" and "public employee" do not include the president, a member of the board of trustees, or any other official or employee of a state educational institution.

SUPPORT/NEUTRAL: With so many legislators and their family members employed in the state's university system, it's no wonder legislation has not been authored requiring university officials and employees before now. So, will the Speaker of House be required to register as a lobbyist under this legislation? Regardless, it's a nice effort to bring a little transparency to an otherwise corruptible situation.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Delph, referred to Committee on Commerce and Public Policy & Interstate Cooperation.

SB 033 - Equivalent Jobs and Wage Discrimination

SYNOPSIS: Equivalent jobs and wage discrimination. Provides that an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of sex, race, or national origin by paying a wage less than the wage paid to an employee of another sex, race, or national origin for work in an equivalent job. Requires an employer to keep certain records of wages paid to an employee and to provide certain documentation to the employee, including an annual statement of how the wages were calculated. Requires the department of labor to adopt rules, including specification of certain criteria for determining whether a job is dominated by employees of one sex, a particular race, or a particular national origin. Allows an employee claiming wage discrimination to file a complaint with the civil rights commission. Authorizes a civil action against an employer that fails to comply with certain wage reporting requirements or that takes certain discriminatory actions. Provides for damages against the employer in certain circumstances. Makes conforming changes.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: With legislation like this, why even provide for capitalism?

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Mrvan, referred to Committee on Pensions and Labor.

SB 328 -- School Debt

SYNOPSIS: Requires the DLGF to collect, organize and publicize data relating to 44 measures of school debt affordability. These measures include a corporation’s cash ratio, current ratio, operating ratio, total outstanding debt, whether general fund expenditures have exceeded revenue in the preceding three years, the ratio of outstanding debt to median household income, percentage change of school population over the preceding five years, and the percentage of mortgage foreclosures over the previous three years. These measures must be determined and publicized prior to a school corporation issuing bonds or entering into a lease rental agreement after Dec. 31, 2009, unless the school’s governing body holds at least one public hearing in which discusses the bonds or lease agreements, as compared to affordability measures and allows for public testimony.

OPPOSE/NEUTRAL: While this legislation is an advance in securing government accountability, allowing the local school boards themselves to develop the numbers for presentation at a single required public hearing, is not as reliable as having an external, disinterested third party develop the data. If the legislation were amended to include a mandatory review and publication of the listed factors prior to a required series of public hearings, it would be worthy of support.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Walker, referred to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy.

Jan 11, 2009

SB 080 -- Cell Phone Use While Driving

SYNOPSIS: Cell phone use while driving. Makes it a Class D infraction for a person less than 18 years of age to operate a motor vehicle while using a hand held mobile telephone. Exempts: (1) a person who uses a mobile telephone in an emergency situation; (2) the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle; (3) the operator of a medical services vehicle; and (4) a volunteer firefighter and certain emergency services professionals en route to the scene of an emergency.

OPPOSE: This legislation would prohibit motor vehicle operators less than 18 years of age from using a hand-held cell phone. A major problem of this legislation is the enforcement aspect. Does this give law enforcement carte blanche in stopping a vehicle? What about the 50-year old SUV driver on narrow streets on a hand-held device? At some point in this process, it's incumbent upon the parents to exercise authority over the situation. Such an unenforceable law should not be left in the hands of the police.

STATUS: Authored by Sens. Kruse and Mishler, referred to Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation & Veterans Affairs.

SB 031 - Eminent Domain for Local Ports

SYNOPSIS: Local port authority eminent domain procedures. Repeals a provision that prohibits a port authority in East Chicago or Hammond from exercising the right of eminent domain in the same manner that all other local port authorities may exercise the right of eminent domain.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: This bill sheds light on the loopholes allowed in the heralded 2006 eminent domain legislation authored by Rep. Wolkins. It was made clear in the sessions since the legislation became law, that the public was duped by legislators. Exempted in the original legislation were the ports and certified technology parks. In last year's session, the legislature created "Inland Ports" circumventing eminent domain law by allowing the creation of inland ports for the purpose of giving private developers the rights to develop third-party private property.

Partner legislation went so far as to allow non-elected economic development officials to negotiate away third party private property with developers in private, with the actual landowner not having knowledge nor being privy to the terms of the sale of his/her own land.

Apparently one port was left out of the mix and this piece of legislation attempts to correct that oversight. The better option is to undo the expansive port authority powers in the State and bring the other ports in line with this one.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Mrvan, referred to Committee on Commerce and Public Policy & Interstate Cooperation.

SB 351 -- Barrett Law for Retention Ponds

SYNOPSIS: Barrett Law funding for retention pond barriers. Specifies that Barrett Law funding may be used to finance a fence, mound, guardrail, barrier, or other structure necessary or useful to: (1) limit access by children to a retention pond; or (2) reduce the likelihood that a vehicle will enter a retention pond. Provides that if such an improvement is constructed under the Barrett Law within a platted subdivision, the works board may assess all or part of the lots in that subdivision for the improvement.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: The existence of Barrett Law funding is already an issue at odds with libertarian beliefs, so the expansion of these laws to finance protective structures around retention ponds is unacceptable. These assessments amount to taxes passed without a formal say by landowners affected by them. Can you imagine the number of "do good" organizations wanting to fence in every single retention pond with someone else's money? While tragic, the loss of life in these ponds is not common enough to further compound the problems by invoking Barrett Laws for such use.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Bray, referred to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy.

HB 1096 - Mortgage Deduction Application

SYNOPSIS: Mortgage deduction application. Provides that a sales disclosure form properly filed by the purchaser of a residence constitutes an application for the mortgage deduction.

SUPPORT: While most libertarians advocate the complete repeal of property taxes, we must accept that for the time being that will be a prolonged legislative battle. In the short term, we should all agree that streamlining paperwork and eliminating bureaucracy should be well-received.

In this legislation, freshman Rep. Barnes proposes streamlining the application for the mortgage deduction by allowing the sales disclosure form to serve that purpose. Anyone who has purchased a property and tried to manage through the filing paperwork and government office hours appreciates removing a level of hassle.

STATUS: Authored by Rep. Barnes, referred to Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform.

HB 1115 - Controlled Substances and Children

SYNOPSIS: Controlled substances and children. Requires the department of child services (DCS) to notify the appropriate prosecuting attorney concerning the birth of a child who is born with fetal alcohol syndrome or with a controlled substance or legend drug in the child's body. Requires a law enforcement agency to inform a local office of the DCS when the law enforcement agency arrests a person for any of the crimes the conviction of which renders the offender a "sex or violent offender". Provides that a woman who knowingly or intentionally consumes a controlled substance or a legend drug while knowing she is pregnant commits a Class D felony if the woman's pregnancy results in the birth of a child and the body of the child contains any amount, including a trace amount, of a controlled substance or legend drug.

OPPOSE: Pardon the knee-jerk reaction any proposed legislation that begins with requiring the Department of Child Services (DSC) become involved. In this case, involvement begins at birth and includes a Class D felony for what is characterized as "any amount, including a trace amount" of a controlled substance. If legislators truly want to reform our healthcare system, they'll certainly not look to making DCS a more intrusive partner and concentrate on making efforts to remove government from the process.

STATUS: Authored by Rep. Cheatham, referred to Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures.

HB 1085 - Political Signs

SYNOPSIS: Display of political signs. Prohibits a homeowners association from adopting or enforcing certain restrictive covenants concerning the display of political signs.

SUPPORT: It's a matter of free speech. Sure, we all find political yard signs annoying, but it doesn't stop supporters from wanting signs come election time and candidates providing them. Having conforming mailboxes or not allowing a chainlink fence in a neighborhood is one thing (of course, having bought into that neighborhood knowing the rules), but disallowing a season yard sign to show your support of a candidate goes too far.

STATUS: Authored by Rep. Fry, referred to Committee on Local Government.

HB 1067 - Public Works Projects

SYNOPSIS: Public works projects. Provides that the plans, specifications, and contract documents for a public works project may not require bidders, contractors, or subcontractors to enter into or comply with certain agreements with labor organizations. Provides a cause of action to challenge the award of a contract that violates these provisions.

STRONGLY SUPPORT: It will be amazing if this bill gets a reading in a Democrat-controlled committee. The bill details a complete list of building and infrastructure public works projects -- not in detail, but in general terms -- and provides that the bidding be open for non-union and union shops alike, with no prerequisite for companies to comply to labor organization participation to win a contract.

STATUS: Rep. Torr authored, referred to Committee on Labor and Employment
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