NFIB Indiana State Director's Post Session Wrap-up

Date: March 15, 2016 Last Edit: March 17, 2016

How 6 key small business bills fared.

NFIB Indiana State Director’s Post Session Wrap-up

No fireworks?  Nope.  Nada. Te 2016 Indiana Legislative session ended fairly quietly late last night.  As usual, there were hundreds of bills filled this year and many were passed.  However, this “Short Session,” occurring every other year, was not a session with huge victories for small business.  Maybe I’m just spoiled.  We’ve had some really big victories in recent years…. I’m not saying there weren’t wins.  There were a few notable wins for Hoosier small businesses:

  1. We passed some protection for franchise employers  
  2. We passed a bill that protects employers from local governments mandating scheduling policies that exceed state and federal law  
  3. We tightened up fraud prevention in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund  
  4. We made the Business Personal Property Tax small business exemption less of a hassle to obtain… and  
  5. We put some brakes on the runaway train called Lawsuit Lending.  

Yes, not particularly exciting, but the best news is that nothing bad happened to small business.  Now, there were a couple of close calls:

  • A bill was drafted that would have expanded the sales tax to services.
  • An attempt was made at the eleventh hour to insert a provision that would create a state run retirement plan for private sector employees

The most interesting thing to emerge from this session is a pretty clear preview of things to come.  This year may have been relatively quiet but next year is teeing up to be a barn-burner.  The above and other issues will be back with a serious coordinated effort.  

A side note: It is really interesting to me that “small government,” “free market” conservatives will propose new government programs that compete with the private enterprise.

Yes, indeed, sometimes less is more.

Here’s a brief update on six of the bills affecting small business:

SB308 – Property Tax Matters (Sen Hershman) – Of great interest to our Ag members.  Among other provisions, this legislation provides that when calculating the base rate for agricultural land for the January 1, 2017, assessment date and each assessment date thereafter, the department of local government finance (DLGF) shall do the following: (1) Use the six most recent years preceding the year in which the assessment date occurs (before the highest of those six years is eliminated when determining the rolling average). (2) After determining a preliminary base rate adjust the rate as follows:  (A) If the preliminary base rate for the assessment date would be at least 10% greater than the final base rate determined for the preceding assessment date, a capitalization rate of 8% shall be used to determine the final base rate. (B) If the preliminary base rate for the assessment date would be at least 10% less than the final base rate determined for the preceding assessment date, a capitalization rate of 6% shall be used to determine the final base rate. (C) If the preliminary base rate for the assessment date is neither at least 10% greater nor at least 10% less than the final base rate determined for the preceding assessment date, a capitalization rate of 7% shall be used to determine the final base rate. Specifies that for purposes of the assessment of agricultural land, the soil productivity factors used for the March 1, 2011, assessment date shall be used for the January 1, 2016, assessment date and each assessment date thereafter. (Under current law, new soil productivity factors are to be used for assessment dates occurring after March 1, 2015.)

Current Status:  Passed the Senate and House.  Ready for signature.

SB212 – Employee Work Schedules (Sen Tallian) – Among other provisions, this legislation requires an employer that owns or operates at least one retail sales establishment in Indiana and employs 15 or more employees to provide each newly hired employee with a good faith estimate in writing of: (1) the minimum number of scheduled shifts that the employee may expect per month; and (2) the hours and days that the shifts generally will be scheduled.

Current Status:  Legislation heard in committee.  No vote taken.  Dead for 2016.

SB211 – Minimum Wage – (Sen Tallian) – Increases the state minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $11.25 an hour.  

Current Status:  Dead.  Legislation not heard in committee.

SB210 – Family Leave Insurance Program – (Sen Tallian) – Requires the department of insurance to establish a family leave insurance program (program) for the purpose of providing benefits to employees who elect to participate in the program. Among other provisions, requires that: (1) the program is voluntary for both employers and employees; (2) both employers and employees make contributions to the program to fund benefits; (3) employee contributions be made by payroll deduction. 

Current Status;  Testimony heard in committee.  No vote taken.  Dead for 2016.

HB1344 – Unemployment Insurance – (Rep Leonard) -This legislation abolishes the Indiana unemployment compensation board and transfers the board’s duties to the department of workforce development (department). Among other provisions, provides that not later than the fourth week after the week an individual begins receiving benefits, the individual must visit and receive an orientation to the services available through a one stop center in order to maintain eligibility to receive benefits.

Current Status:  Passed the House and Senate.  Ready for Governor’s signature.

HB1169  – Business Personal Property Tax Exemption (Rep. Saunders)  – Replaces the requirement that a taxpayer that is eligible for the business personal property tax exemption submit to the county assessor a notarized statement each year affirming the taxpayer’s eligibility for the exemption, subject to penalties for perjury, with a requirement that the taxpayer indicate on the taxpayer’s personal property return that the taxpayer is eligible for the exemption for the assessment date.

Current Status:  Passed the House and Senate. Next stop:  Governor Pence.

Barbara Quandt Underwood

NFIB Indiana State Director

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