IBCA 2008 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP
The 2008 legislative session came to a close on March 14. Several significant bills were tracked by the Indiana Beef Cattle Association (IBCA) during the three-month event, including, but not limited to, property taxes, veterinary medicine, renewable energy, federal meat grading, and various agricultural issues.
PROPERTY TAXES - IBCA along with other agricultural groups urged lawmakers to reject a constitutional amendment that would limit homeowners' property taxes to 1 percent of their assessed valuation, place a 2 percent cap on rental property, and place a 3 percent cap on businesses and all other classes of property. Farmers already pay a large amount in property taxes, which can typically range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year for many farmers. The constitutional amendment did pass this legislative session and the process for amending Indiana's Constitution calls for an amendment to be passed by two successively elected General Assemblies, and then placed before the voters in the next general election. So, we'll see this one again in 2009!
VETERINARY MEDICINE - Sen. Gary Dillon (R-Huntington) authored SB 316, the bill updating the law governing the practice of veterinary medicine in Indiana. As it was sent to the Governor, SB 316 recodifies much of the existing statutory language regarding veterinary medicine and updates a number of definitions in the code. Of particular interest to IBCA members are provisions that: exempt care of an animal by its owner or a contract operator who has 24/7 control of an animal from the definition of "practice of veterinary medicine"; allow artificial insemination by non-vets; make it clear that law does not restrict the use or distribution of a veterinary drug if federal law does not restrict it to licensed veterinarians (this allows supplements to be added to feed); and allow alternative treatments, such as chiropractic or acupuncture, under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian that is familiar with the animal. Many calls were received by the IBCA office and the office worked closely with the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) and the issues were discussed and resolved quickly.
E85 FUELING STATION GRANTS - The Senate concurred on SB 360, a bill that increases the upper limit that may be granted for the purpose of installing E85 pumps from $5,000 to $20,000. The bill's author, Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield), agreed with a House amendment which provided that local units of government could receive the pump grants as well. This could make the difference in convincing some governmental units to shift a significant number of their fleets to E85 or flex-fuel vehicles. The grants are administered by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and paid from the proceeds of the new corn market development fund.
RECODIFICATION OF AG TITLE SIGNED BY GOVERNOR - Gov. Daniels signed into law SB 190, a bill that recodifies Title 15 of the Indiana Code. This is the law governing agriculture and animals. This is a routine periodic update of the code that was prepared last summer by the Code Revision Commission. The bill's author was Sen. David Ford (R-Hartford City) and its House sponsor was Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne). The House made no changes to the bill that passed the Senate, so there was no need for the Senate to concur.
MEAT GRADING AND CERTIFICATION - The IBCA worked hard on a bill that would allow the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) to voluntarily grade and certify meat products in the state of Indiana. IBCA worked closely with BOAH officials and other industry groups to move this legislation forward. Several meat companies and beef producers traveled to Indianapolis to visit personally with legislators and to testify before the Senate and House Agriculture committees about the value added opportunities such legislation would provide. In the end, the legislation was passed. IBCA sends a hearty thank you and congratulations to the bill's author, Sen. Robert Jackman (R-Milroy) for his work on this policy. Governor Daniels has planned a ceremonial signing of the bill on April 24, 2008. IBCA also wishes Sen. Jackman the very best in his retirement from the Indiana General Assembly.
The agricultural industry was faced with a great loss during this year?s General Assembly with the death of a good agricultural friend and supporter of Indiana agriculture - Sen. David Ford (R-Hartford City). Sen. Ford was first elected to the Senate in 1994 and at the time of his death served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader, Chairman of the Senate's Economic Development & Technology Committee, as a member of the Education & Career Development Committee and the Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee. Sen. Ford, who was 59, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late January. The IBCA extends its sympathy and condolences to David's widow, Joyce, his family and his colleagues in the General Assembly.
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS - Just because the legislature is not meeting in Indianapolis, does not mean you should not contact your state representative or senator. Indiana's legislators listen to their constituents. Let yourself be heard on issues that are important to you. You can write to your senator or representative at the Statehouse, Indianapolis, IN 46204. Call House members at 317-232-9600 or 1-800-382-9842. Senators can be reached at 317-232-9400 or 1-800-382-9467. You can email your legislator at http://www.in.gov. This is part of the General Assembly homepage at Access Indiana. Personal contact when legislators are home on weekends remains the most effective way to communicate your ideas to your elected representatives.