2014 Indiana General Assembly

Business tax cut advances at Statehouse

2014-03-03T19:45:00Z 2014-03-03T23:50:09Z Business tax cut advances at StatehouseBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | The Republican-controlled House approved a business tax cut proposal Monday that's expected to be merged with a state Senate-revised measure into one plan that its supporters claim will create jobs for Hoosiers.

The House voted 63-36 for Senate Bill 1, which permits counties to eliminate the business personal property tax on new equipment, allows localities in counties that don't eliminate the tax to abate business personal property taxes for 25 years and reduces the state corporate income tax rate from 7 percent to 4.9 percent by 2023.

When the tax cuts are fully implemented state revenue will drop by $136 million a year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

The financial effect on local governments will depend on whether counties and cities choose to eliminate the tax on business and manufacturing equipment.

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected Tuesday to approve House Bill 1001, which exempts businesses with less than $20,000 in taxable equipment from the business personal property tax, permits localities to abate personal property taxes on new equipment worth more than $3 million and cuts the corporate income tax rate to 4.9 percent by 2022.

Schools and local governments statewide stand to lose about $7 million a year under the plan, and no replacement revenue is provided. State revenue will drop by $136 million a year.

State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said the business tax cuts are needed to keep Indiana rated among the best states for business and to help lure companies and jobs to the state.

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said Indiana already has given enough in tax breaks to Hoosier companies. The state's failure to invest in its middle class is the reason Indiana's economy is not growing faster.

Neither plan meets Republican Gov. Mike Pence's goal of eliminating the business personal property tax, though Pence has embraced all the other tax cuts.

The business tax cut proposals are headed to House-Senate conference committees, where lawmakers from both chambers will work to develop final legislative language that must be approved again by the House and Senate before it can go to the governor for his signature or veto.

Other measures winning House approval Monday that now likely are headed to conference committees included (vote totals in parentheses):

Gun buyback — The House revised Senate Bill 229 (74-24) to delete a Senate-approved ban on localities operating gun buyback programs. Buybacks would continue to be allowed so long as they're not funded by federal, state or local tax dollars. The measure also permits licensed handgun carriers to bring guns onto school property so long as the guns are concealed in a locked vehicle. It still would be a felony to bring a gun into a school building. 

Industrial hemp — Senate Bill 357 (93-4) enables Hoosier farmers to raise cannabis for the production of industrial hemp products such as clothes, rope and fuel, provided the federal government allows it. The plants are bred so as to not have the psychoactive compounds that make marijuana popular.

Football concussions — Senate Bill 222 (95-3) requires football coaches and their assistants take a biannual course in concussion awareness. In addition, student athletes suspected of suffering a concussion could not return to play for at least 24 hours following the incident.

Abortion — Senate Bill 292 (88-9) mandates the state health department keep a written record of the hospital admitting privileges for each doctor that performs abortions or shares his or her admitting privileges with an abortion clinic. 

Nursing home moratorium — Senate Bill 173 (55-40) imposes a one-year moratorium on the construction of new comprehensive care beds and facilities. The state's current nursing facility occupancy rate is 80.26 percent.

Hunting and fishing — Senate Joint Resolution 9 (79-16) would amend the Indiana Constitution by establishing a right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject only to restrictions imposed by the General Assembly. The proposed amendment must be approved by the 2015-16 General Assembly to go to voters for ratification or rejection.

Female veterans — Senate Bill 354 (97-0) establishes a Hoosier women veterans program, led by a female coordinator, to advise women veterans of benefits available to them, research the needs of women veterans and make recommendations to improve benefits.

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