Indiana 2014 Legislative Session Halftime Report

Date: February 05, 2014

Related Content: NFIB in My State State Indiana

My halftime show does not
have Bruno Mars or Red Hot Chili Peppers but, let me assure you, we are red
hot!  I’m pleased to report that a number
of great-for-small business bills are moving through the legislature and a
number of bad-for-small-biz bills are dead. 

2014 is a non-budget year, a
year that is most often referred to as the “short session.”  In years past, the short session was widely
considered to be the year during which  not much happens.  This is hardly the case this year.  Hundreds of bills have been filed and your
NFIB state public policy staff is working hard to see that the good stuff moves
forward and the bad stuff dies. 

Here’s a rundown of the
bills we’re working on and the issues we’re following:

HB 1001-  Tax
Exemption for New Personal Property

–  This bill provides local governments
with the option to exempt new personal property (equipment and furniture) from
the Business Personal Property Tax.  Reforming
Indiana’s
Business Personal Property Tax is the number one state issue for NFIB members.  Indiana State Director Barbara
Quandt and four NFIB members testified in support of this
bill when it was heard in the House
Ways and Means committee.

This issue has been much in
the news with local governments raising alarm about lost tax revenue and
squeezed budgets.  What they fail to
point out is that none of the current proposals before the General Assembly
eliminate the tax.  HB1001 merely exempts
the tax on NEW equipment.  AND….. this
proposal is optional.  No county
will be forced to exempt any business personal property.

This bill has passed the
House on a vote of 63 to 33 and is now headed for the Senate.

Note:  If you
haven’t already done so, tell your legislators that you support reforming the
Business Personal Property Tax.

SB 1 – State and Local Taxation –   Among
other provisions, this bill provides that if the value of a taxpayer’s business
personal property is less than $25,000 for a particular assessment date: (1)
the taxpayer is not required to file a personal property return for the
taxpayer’s business personal property in the county; and (2) the taxpayer’s
business personal property in the county is exempt from taxation for that
assessment date. This also requires the taxpayer to file an annual certification
with the county assessor.

This is the other Business Personal
Property Tax bill that is moving through the legislature.  State Director, Barbara
Quandt and several NFIB members testified in support of this thoughtful
and creative proposal.  If a business has
less than $25,000 in assessed value, they would pay no tax and would not have
to file a personal property tax return. 
This good-for-small-biz bill also cuts the corporate tax rate and
provides for a commission to study how the state can permanently eliminate the
Business Personal Property Tax.

This bill has passed the
Senate on a vote of 35 to 11 and is now headed to the House.

Note:  If you
haven’t already done so, tell your legislators that you support reforming the
Business Personal Property Tax.

HB 1020 – Study of Economic Development Incentives – Among other provisions, this bill requires the
commission on state tax and financing policy to review, analyze, and evaluate
state and local tax incentives that are provided to encourage economic
development or to alter, reward, or subsidize a particular action or behavior
by a tax incentive recipient. Requires the use of a five year review schedule.
Requires the commission to publish a report before November 1 each year on tax
incentives reviewed that year.

HB 1020 passed out of the
House on a vote of 93 to 0. 

Note:  This
bill is one that emerged following the series of Town Hall meetings conducted
last summer by the Indiana
Legislature’s Small Business Caucus. 
Legislators really listened to small business owners’ concerns.

HB 1198 – Business Single Point of Contact with State
Specifies that state agencies,
including the department of workforce development and the department of state
revenue, shall provide assistance at no cost to the secretary of state in
developing and maintaining a one stop Internet web site for businesses to use.
Requires the department of state revenue and the department of workforce
development to coordinate with the secretary of state to use an Internet web
site to share information with other state agencies and to provide a single
point of contact with all state agencies for a person to accomplish various
requirements to transact business in the state.

This is another proposal emerging from the Small
Business Caucus Town Halls last summer. 
Small business owners repeatedly expressed their frustration in dealing
with state agencies and the difficulty they encounter when attempting to get
timely, accurate information. 

HB1198 passed out of the
House on a vote of 94 to 0 and moves on to the Senate.

HB 1241- Environmental Coverage-  This bill
specifies the manner in which the meaning of “pollutant”, as used in
certain liability insurance policies, must be construed.  This is a controversial issue that has small
business owners concerned that they will be hit by cleanup costs that insurance
policies will not cover.  NFIB is working
with the bill’s sponsor and others to protect our members.

This legislation passed out
of the House on a vote of 57 to 36.

HB 1301 – Fire and Building Safety Issues – Among other provisions, this bill requires the state
building commissioner to issue a written interpretation of a building law or
fire safety law not later than 10 business days after the date of receiving a
request. It provides that a design release may be issued without a plan review
if: (1) the application for a design release is complete; and (2) the
application for a design release is not selected for a plan review by the
division. It establishes deadlines for the division to conduct plan reviews and
provide notices. It also provides that, with certain exceptions, if the
division fails to provide notice or complete plan review within the time
required by statute, a design release must be issued without further
review.  

HB 1301 is yet another issue that was brought up at
the Small Business Town Halls.  Many
complaints were raised about the slow pace of plan reviews and the adverse
effect this has on small businesses around the state.

HB 1301 passed out of the
House on a vote of 79 to 15.

HB 1332 – Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship
This bill codifies the law
concerning the office of small business and entrepreneurship. It transfers the
small business development center, the small business ombudsman, and the young
entrepreneurs program from the Indiana
economic development corporation to the office of small business and
entrepreneurship by removing or repealing the appropriate provisions in the Indiana economic
development corporation law and recodifying them in the law concerning the
lieutenant governor. It extends the young entrepreneurs program by two years
and makes other changes to the Indiana
code.

State Director Barbara Quandt testified in favor of this
legislation that makes common sense streamline changes and places greater
emphasis on the job creators of Indiana.

HB 1332 passed out of the
House on a vote of 94 to 0. 

SB 66 – State-Assisted Retirement Plan –  This bill establishes
a state-assisted retirement plan (plan) for purposes of encouraging Indiana residents to
increase their rate of savings and to build assets for the use of a participant
or the participant’s beneficiaries or survivors after the participant’s
retirement. Establishes the Indiana
retirement savings board (board) consisting of five members appointed by the
governor, the treasurer of state, and the director of the office of management
and budget. Provides that the board selects an administrator and oversees the
plan. Requires that the plan be qualified under Section 401(a) or another
applicable section of the Internal Revenue Code.

At first blush, this bill
might seem like a good idea.  Encouraging
people to save for retirement is a good thing… 
right?  Not in this case.  This concept has a couple of gaping
flaws:  #1 It puts the state in
competition with private enterprise; those companies involved in providing
retirement account services.  And #2  It set us up for a new mandate.  While this bill calls for voluntary
participation, Illinois
had a proposal that made it mandatory for businesses to participate in the
state plan.  So… what would happen if the
state decided that not enough small businesses were “voluntarily”
complying?  We’d be just one simple
legislative step away from a new mandate.

Good news! 
While this bill easily passed out of the Senate Pensions and Labor
Committee, we were able to stop it at that point.  SB 66 never came up for a vote in the full
Senate and is effectively dead.  (May it
rest in peace.) A huge thank you goes to NFIB Illinois
State Director Kim Maisch
for bringing this issue to our attention. 

These are just a few of the
issues we’re working on.  I will be
updating you in this space on a regular basis. 
If you have a bill that is of particular interest to you, please don’t
hesitate to contact me by phone at 317-638-4447 or by email at
[email protected]

Thank you for being an NFIB
member!

Barbara Quandt, NFIB Indiana State Director

Related Content: NFIB in My State | State | Indiana

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