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Friday, January 27, 2012
Volume 12, Issue 5

Thanks to Crawford, Delaware, Greene, Hendricks, Jefferson and Vermillion County Farm Bureaus and the State Young Farmer & Ranchers Committee for visiting the Statehouse this week.
There are no county Farm Bureaus scheduled to visit the Statehouse next week.

RIGHT-TO-WORK PASSES IN EACH HOUSE  Both the Indiana Senate and the House of Representatives this week passed their version of the right-to-work law.  The bills, HB 1001 (Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel) and SB 269 (Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury), each passed after extended debate.  In the House, the strategy against the bill took the form of Democrats denying the House a quorum to do business by refusing to answer repeated quorum calls.  In an effort to get the delinquent members back in their seats, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) imposed fines of $1,000 per day on those legislators with three or more days of consecutive unexcused absences.  A right-to-work law makes it unlawful for an employer to require a person to either belong to a labor union or pay the union an amount equivalent to union dues as a condition of employment.  The Republican majority in each house and Gov. Mitch Daniels argued that passage of right-to-work will make Indiana a more attractive state in which you locate a business; Democrats countered that its passage will actually lower wages and result in higher unemployment.  SB 269 passed the Senate on Monday by a vote of 28-22; HB 1001 passed on Wednesday by a vote of 54-44.

FIRST HOUSE DEADLINE, SUPER BOWL NEXT WEEK  The Indiana General Assembly will be in session through Tuesday next week before downtown Indianapolis plays host to the Super Bowl.  Unlike the walkout of 2011, the Democrats who stayed off the floor this year did remain in the Statehouse and regularly attended committee hearings.  As a result, a large number of bills have been forwarded to the full House where they await further action.  The deadline for bills to pass the house in which they were introduced is next week, which means there is a very real chance the House will meet on Wednesday.

REGIONAL SEWER DISTRICT BILLS OKd BY COMMITTEE  The House Environment Committee this week approved two bills dealing with regional sewer districts: HB 1117, authored by Committee Chair Dave Wolkins (R-Winona Lake), and HB 1225, introduced by Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne).  Farm Bureau’s Justin Schneider served on a taskforce that considered these bills following public testimony a week ago.  Although it had been expected that this would produce a single bill that combined the two bills, Chairman Wolkins decided to move both bills.  Farm Bureau worked with the Association of Regional Sewer Districts to develop HB 1117, but both bills contain features that would be supported by Farm Bureau members.

DEPARTMENT  OF  LABOR  AGREES  TO AG  EXEMPTION IN CHILD LABOR  BILL  HB 337, a bill introduced by Sen. Brent Waltz (R-Greenwood), would increase the penalties for violating the state’s child labor laws.  During a hearing on the bill, DOL responded to a concern raised by Farm Bureau’s Justin Schneider regarding the bill’s application to farming by saying that it would not apply because farming activities were covered by a more comprehensive exemption in the law.  After further review, DOL agreed that might not be the case and agreed to support clarifying language when the bill reaches the House.

RIGHT-TO-FARM BILL AMENDED   Authored by Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy), HB 1091 would require a court to consider whether a nuisance lawsuit against an agricultural producer was frivolous, malicious, or groundless and, if so, award the costs of litigation, including attorney fees, to the farmer. It was amended on the floor of the House on Thursday to include provisions requiring fines and restitution for persons convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine or growing marijuana on another person’s property; and provide that agricultural contracts could not require a lawsuit based on the contract that seeks less than $25,000 to be held outside Indiana.  The bill is expected to pass the full House on January 27. 

CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS 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, or at Third House or Cracker Barrel Sessions, remains the most effective way to communicate your ideas to your elected representatives.