Gov. Pence Happy With Lawmaking Session Outcome
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana’s state lawmakers wrapped up the legislative session a day early on Thursday.
The 2014 session has come to an end with some major pieces of legislation being forwarded to Governor Mike Pence for possible signature into law. The governor thanked the lawmakers for their work done since the session began January 6.
“Because members of the General Assembly worked together on behalf of Hoosiers, our economy will be stronger, our families will have more opportunities, and in a time of great challenge in our nation’s economy and politics Indiana will continue to stand tall as a state that works,” Pence said.
Some of the governor’s biggest legislative priorities passed the General Assembly, including a pre-kindergarten voucher pilot program in five counties to begin later this year. Those five counties will be selected by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. Depending on the pilot’s success, the program could be expanded statewide down the road.
Pence had also asked lawmakers to eliminate Indiana’s personal property tax on business. The proposal was such a priority it was labeled Senate Bill 1, which passed both the House and Senate. With lawmakers leery of how the tax elimination may decrease local government tax revenues, the final version of the bill would give counties an option to rescind the tax.
HEAR OUR INTERVIEW WITH STATE REPRESENTATIVE RANDY FRYE (R-GREENSBURG) ABOUT THE 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION.
SB 1 also decreases Indiana’s corporate income tax to 4.9 percent over the next six years. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said Indiana will eventually have the lowest corporate income tax rate in the nation.
“Indiana must continue to be innovative and look for every opportunity to stay ahead of the competition. Lower taxes are a proven incentive to attract business investment. By providing counties additional options to attract new jobs, our state’s economy will be stronger,” said Bosma.
Lawmakers also approved up to $400 million in new highway funding. $200 million of the new highway funding comes this year. Another $200 million is earmarked for next year’s budget-making session.
“Last year, we dedicated tens of millions of dollars for Indiana’s roads and bridges. And this year, we are investing another 400 million dollars for projects to put Hoosiers to work now and make sure we remain the Crossroads of America,” said Pence.
One bill that did not pass on Thursday was State Representative Jud McMillin’s (R-Brookville) drug testing for welfare bill. HB 1351 would have subjected some recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to random drug testing, as well as require that food stamp purchases be limited to nutritious food items.
HB 1351 had earlier passed both chambers. The final version agreed to in a conference committee passed the House, but barely failed in the Senate on a 24-24 vote Thursday. McMillin expressed disappointment with the Senate vote, which marked the third straight year that lawmakers in that chamber have defeated his proposal.
“Senate killed our efforts to bring meaningful and helpful entitlement reform to Indiana…. Again. Thanks to everyone who continues to support efforts to bring common sense to ‘entitlement’ programs,” McMillin said on Facebook Thursday.
In his post-legislative address, Pence credited lawmakers for passing many bills with bi-partisan support.
“So on behalf of every Hoosier, I offer my heartfelt thanks to each and every member of the 2014 Indiana General Assembly, especially House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, for a job well done,” Pence said.