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Regulatory Flexibility Committee meets 9/6/12 to hear IURC Annual Report, Annual Report on renewable resources and InVCEP; Watch on-line September 6, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized, Voluntary Clean Energy Portfolio Standard Program.
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This meeting will be broadcast over the Internet for those unable to attend. Please visit http://www.in.gov/legislative/2441.htm and select the video stream for the appropriate room, i.e. Senate Chamber, from the drop down list to watch the Webcast.

Here is the link to the Regulatory Flexibility Committee agenda: http://www.in.gov/legislative/interim/committee/notices/RFSCF96.pdfhttp://www.in.gov/legislative/interim/committee/notices/RFSCF96.pdf

This committee meeting agenda and notice includes a list of state legislators who are a member of this important committee. Check to see if your own state legislators are a member of this committee.

MEETING TIME: 10:00 am

MEETING PLACE: Senate Chamber, State House, 200 W. Washington, Indianapolis, IN

MEETING AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS:

  1. Discussion of clean energy and the Indiana Voluntary Clean Energy Portfolio program
  2. Discussion of renewable energy transmission
  3. Report by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission by IURC Chairman Jim Atterholt
  4. Annual Report by the State Utility Forecasting Group including Annual Report on renewable resources
  5. Update from the Office of the utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC)

Approval of Indiana Solar PV Property Tax Exemption in Final Stretch; HB 1072 Goes to Governor Daniels for Final Step March 14, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.
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Many of you already know that the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly adjourned during the wee hours of Saturday, March 10th.

Indianapolis Star State House reporters Mary Beth Schneider and Chris Sikich described the end of the session as follows:

“It was nearly 2 a.m. Saturday when Indiana’s lawmakers concluded the 2012 legislative session, with the final votes passing a bill that addressed everything from the victims of last year’s State Fair disaster to taxpayers to schools.

While lawmakers could have stretched this session out until Wednesday — the statutory deadline for them to finish their work — legislative leaders decided to cut the session short instead. After a bitter fight in January over the so-called “right to work” legislation, which brought thousands of protesters to the Statehouse and sparked days of boycotts by House Democrats, all were ready to wrap this session up.

Not, however, before voting on a flurry of bills through the night Friday into this [Saturday] morning.”

It was a grueling evening at the State House. So what do I mean by grueling? The last day of the session is typically physically but perhaps more importantly mentally demanding to the point of exhaustion. During one of the many recesses on the final day I saw Conference Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Espich in the back of the House Chamber engaged in conversation along with Senate Democratic conferee John Broden. At one point, Espich put a stack of papers on the ledge by the large windows at the rear of the Chamber. I could read upside down that this was a Conference Committee Report (CCR) for HB 1072 because that appears in larger type and bold faced at the top of the page. I desperately tried to nonchalantly read the Synopsis upside down through the window without Espich noticing what I was trying to do. A few minutes later when Sen. Broden left the House Chamber to return to the Senate floor, I was able to confirm with Broden that the solar PV language was in the CCR circulating for signatures. Whew! What a relief.

Even though you think you know what is going to happen, the final day of the session when law makers are dealing with Conference Committees it feels like you are in the Twilight Zone. Anything can and frequently does happen. The 800 pound gorilla was the lingering prospect of re-emergence of the tax credit language for the beleaguered Indiana Gasification, LLC, and SNG plant proposed for Rockport, Indiana.

Although most Conference Committees start out with one House Republican, one House Democrat, one Senate Republican and one Senate Democrat, if one of the minority conferees, i.e. Democratic members does not sign the CCR they are summarily removed and replaced by someone, i.e. a Republican who can and will sign the CCR. Yup. That’s the way it works. After the four conferees sign the CCR, there is not an opportunity to amend the CCR. It is either voted “up” or “down” on the floor of the House and the Senate. If the CCR report is defeated, it goes back to the conferees for another try.

After a Conference Committee Report (CCR) for HB 1072 was finally signed, state legislators suspend the rules and look over the CCR in the House and Senate Rules Committees. Following presentation to the respective Rules Committee members the CCR then goes back to both the House and the Senate for final roll call votes. For example, suspension of the House Rules then allowed a CCR to be considered on the House floor after merely 30 minutes.

The House called down the CCR a little before 11:00 pm but was withdrawn a few minutes later because hard copies had not been distributed to House members. Later it was called down again around 11:49 pm and the roll call in the House approved HB 1072 about 11:53 pm by a vote of 87-8.

The Senate did not vote on the CCR for HB 1072 until 12:28 am Saturday morning by a vote of 50-0.

After the House and the Senate vote on the CCR then the Senate Pro Tem and the Speaker of the House sign the bill. This took place on 3/13/2012. The last and final step is approval by Governor Mitch Daniels. Once HEA 1072 reaches the Governor he has one week to 1) sign the bill, 2) allow the bill to become law without his signature or 3) veto the bill. The Governor has one week to act once it reaches his desk. You can track action by the Governor by visiting: http://www.in.gov/gov/billwatch.htm.

So continue to keep your fingers crossed and/or “knock on wood.”

The legislation is now referred to as House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1072. The final reversion can be found at: http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2012/PDF/HE/HE1072.1.pdf

The solar photovoltaic (PV) property tax exemption can be found in Sections 15 &16 on pages 10 & 11 of 191 pages.

For more information, please see http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2012&session=1&request=getBill&docno=1072

Resolution of Rockport issue should allow HB 1072 Conference Committee with solar pv property tax exemption to move forward; “Knock on wood” March 9, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized, Vectren.
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Dear Blog Readers:

There has been no action on the HB 1072 Conference Committee since its initial meeting on 3/6/2012 while state legislators and the Daniels Administration discussed the tax credit for the Indiana Gasification, LLC SNG plant at Rockport, Indiana. Now with the alternative course of action outlined in the newspaper article below, state lawmakers are expected to take action on a Conference Committee Report for HB 1072.

HB 1072 as it passed the Senate contained the extention of the property tax exemption for solar pv. I am hopeful that this language will remain in the Conference Committee Report (CCR) which needs to be signed today. After the four conferees sign the CCR then it returns to both the House and the Senate for final roll call votes. Please note that another Conference Committee meeting is not required for the conferees to merely sign the CCR. Before the CCR on HB 1072 can be voted on the floor though it must go both to the House Rules Committee and the Senate Rules Committee. Hopefully, the time clock will not run out but this issue may not be resolved until the final hours or hour of the 2012 session. “Knock on wood.”

Laura Ann Arnold

Lawmakers dropping Rockport issue as session nears its end

  • By Eric Bradner
  • Evansville Courier & Press
  • Posted March 8, 2012 at 2:23 p.m., updated March 8, 2012 at 3:45 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS —Developers of the Rockport, Ind. coal-to-gas plant do not need state lawmakers’ help to get a 20-year, $120 million tax credit, after all.

Instead, the Indiana Department of Revenue – an agency under the watch of Gov. Mitch Daniels, a champion of the $2.6 billion plant – will rule on whether the tax credit applies. The agency’s likely answer: Yes.

It’s a work-around to avoid asking reticent legislators to once again change the law to help push forward a plant that Daniels calls a great deal, but Vectren Corp. and other Indiana utilities say will drive ratepayers’ bills upward.

Key Republican fiscal leaders said the Daniels administration had opted to try for that “administrative fix” to forestall potential lawsuits over the tax credit, instead of pressing lawmakers on the issue as the 2012 legislative session reaches its end.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said legislation related to the tax credit won’t make its way into a bill.

“Everybody likes to let the legislature solve all their problems for them rather than figure out if they’ve got another way to do it sometimes, and I think maybe that’s what happened in this case,” Kenley said.

The Rockport plant’s proponents said working through the Indiana Department of Revenue is fine with them.

“There was never any doubt in our minds that we qualified under the existing law,” said Mark Lubbers, an Indiana consultant for Leucadia National Corp., the Rockport plant’s developer, and a former top Daniels aide.

“Given the fact that Vectren is spending every dime of ratepayer money they can to slow us down, we wanted to clarify the language in a way to mitigate their next nuisance lawsuit.”

Opponents took another view.

“I thought we overthrew the monarchy back in 1776,” said Kerwin Olson, the head of the Citizens Action Coalition, an environmental advocacy group that has opposed the Rockport project.

After negotiations with utilities such as Vectren broke down, Daniels had the Indiana Finance Authority negotiate a 30-year contract to purchase 38 million dekatherms of synthetic natural gas annually from the Rockport plant, and then resell that to Hoosier ratepayers.

The contract, approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in November, was a huge boost for Rockport’s developers because it guaranteed their product would have a buyer.

However, during this year’s session, Vectren has used the question of whether the tax credit, which would give the Rockport plant an approximately $6 million per year incentive to purchase Indiana coal, is applicable as a chance to lobby lawmakers to reconsider the whole project.

Their argument: A recent shale-gas boom has driven natural gas prices on the open market down to $2.50 per dekatherm – much lower than the $6.64 per dekatherm average rate over the life of the contract that the Indiana Finance Authority expects to pay the Rockport plant.

Indiana utilities wouldn’t have a financial stake, but 17 percent of all Hoosier ratepayers’ bills would be tied to the Rockport plant’s prices, and utilities would be required to act as an intermediary and bill for that 17 percent.

Thus, Vectren officials have complained, they expect to be blamed by ratepayers if the cost of Rockport’s synthetic natural gas proves higher than the other natural gas the utility is delivering.

Still, Daniels said he expects natural gas prices to fluctuate over time, as they have in recent years. He said Hoosiers are guaranteed savings over the life of the contract, and that it would also help create jobs in Southwestern Indiana.

By dodging the step of having the Indiana General Assembly approve language related to the tax credit before Friday’s adjournment, the Daniels administration keeps lawmakers from stepping into a court battle, as Vectren and others are challenging the IURC’s approval of the Rockport plant.

“I’m pleased that there seems to be a recognition among many legislators that there are questions about this project,” said Mike Roeder, Vectren’s vice president of government affairs and corporate communications.

He said the utility will have to regroup before determining how next to try to prevent the Rockport plant’s construction.

“We’ve been laser-focused on this legislative language because frankly, that’s what the other side believed they needed. They’ve changed strategy, and so we’ll have to evaluate that,” Roeder said.

“This has been as much about the project as it is about the credit. It’s just caused us to say to legislators for several weeks, ‘We don’t think you should give them the tax credit, and by the way, you might just want to take a whole new look at the project.’”

Lubbers said the tax credit is important to another step toward the project’s completion: Securing a federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We have to go through the process, but our case is extremely strong and we feel very comfortable. This kind of ruling has the force of law and will keep the next nuisance lawsuit from Vectren from slowing us down,” Lubbers said in an email.

“Additionally, our financing team feels that this ruling will provide all the assurance we need for the Department of Energy loan guarantee commitment. So, all good.”

HB 1072 Conferees Appointed; Will Chairman Espich Keep Indiana Solar PV Property Tax Exemption in HB 1072? March 6, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Uncategorized.
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UPDATE: The Conference Committee for HB 1072 will be TODAY (3/6/2012) at 4:00 pm in Room 404 of the State House.

To watch on-line, please see http://www.in.gov/legislative/2441.htm

The 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly is entering its final week where the focus turns to Conference Committees to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of bills passed in their respective houses.

After a bill passes Third Reading or final passage in both houses, it returns to the “house of origin” and the original bill author. In the case of HB 1072, it returns to Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale). Espich then has two choices; 1) concur with the changes made in the second house  followed by a roll call vote;  or 2) dissent and have a conference committee appointed to reconcile the differences. Espich filed a dissent motion for HB 1072 and the conference committee members or conferees have been appointed as follows:

House Conferees appointed: Espich, Chairman (R-Uniondale) and Welch (D-Bloomington)

House Advisors appointed: Turner (R), Thompson (R), Ellspermann (R), Ubelhor (R), Dembowski (D) and Pryor (D)

Senate Conferees appointed: Hershman (R-Buck Creek) and Broden (D-South Bend)

Senate Advisors appointed: Kenley (R), Mishler (R), Head (R) and Skinner (D)

The conference committee then meets at the will of the Chairman, in this case, Espich. The four conferees meet with their appointed advisors and work on a new version of HB 1072. Subject matter or content that has passed third reading in at least one House is eligible to be inserted into the Conference Committee Report (CCR). For example, it is believed that the tax credit for the controversial Indiana Gasification, LLC plant in Rockport, Indiana, may be inserted into HB 1072. The subject matter concerning Indiana Gasification, LLC was a part of SB 344 when it passed third reading in the Senate but it was removed by an amendment in the House Ways and Means Committee. (See http://wp.me/pMRZi-CI) Later SB 344 was not called down for second reading in the House (31 amendments had been filed). Therefore, SB 344 died. But most of the subject matter had already been inserted into HB 1072 in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee by Sen. Hershman. HB 1072 then passed third reading in the Senate.

HB 1072 now contains the property tax exemption for solar photovoltaic (PV) devices, however, with a simple stroke of a pen Rep. Espich can have the language removed from his proposed version of the Conference Committee Report (CCR). Rep. Espich already removed the solar PV property tax exemption once in SB 344 in the House Ways and Means Committee. The $64,000 question is will Espich remove the solar PV property tax exemption again from the CCR for HB 1072 or will he permit it to stay?

As the conferees on HB 1072 meet, all four conferees must agree to a particular version of the revised bill known as a Conference Committee Report (CCR). After all four signatures are obtained, the CCR returns to both the House and the Senate for another roll call vote. There is no opportunity to amend a CR when it goes back to the House and the Senate. It is an up or down roll call vote. This is where the legislative process becomes like a tarantella becoming faster and faster until the end.

There is a strong rationale for extending the property tax exemption to solar PV since it is already in effect for solar thermal, wind power devices and geothermal. Last session, however, Sen. Hershman amended the property tax exemption for wind systems so that the property tax exemption cannot be used if the owner is participating in a feed-in tariff program. Attempts were made to amend this language in the House Ways and Means Committee on SB 344 but these efforts proved unsuccessful. Hershman indicated that this issue should be addressed by “introducing a bill next session.” And then SB 344 died in the House.

If your state legislator is either a conferee or an advisor, I strongly urge that you contact them immediately and express support for the inclusion of the solar PV property tax exemption in the CCR for HB 1072. Just follow the hyperlink to their official website listed above. You may also want to follow up with a phone call to their Legislative Assistant (L.A.) If you need help finding this information, please contact me via LArnold@indy.rr.com or (317) 635-1701.

To better understand the Indiana General Assembly state legislative processes please see this document prepared by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. It contains a flow chart which attempts to explain the legislative process in Indiana as well as providing an excellent glossary of terms. How a bill becomes a law

For more information about the Indiana General Assembly, please visit http://www.in.gov/legislative.

Vectren: Rockport a ‘Loser’ For Indiana Natural Gas Customers February 16, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized, Vectren.
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Dear Readers,

Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC) also testified at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing and essentially supported the testimony given by Vectren. The fact that CAC was supporting a position of an Indiana utility brought more than a few smiles and laughes from the Committee.

Laura Ann Arnold

Utility executive: Shale-gas boom means proposed coal-gasification plant’s ‘time has passed’

from Associated Press, Feb. 14, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — A utility executive told a legislative committee Tuesday that a drop in natural gas prices as a result of the nation’s shale-gas boom have made a proposed southern Indiana coal-gasification plant a project “whose time has passed.”

Jerry Ulrey, Vectren Corp.’s vice president for regulatory affairs, also told the House Ways and Means Committee that the utility estimates the proposed plant would lose more than $800 million over its first eight years in operation given current natural gas price projections.

He testified as the panel considered a bill exempting large industrial customers from rate hikes resulting from a state-negotiated gas supply deal for the plant proposed near the Ohio River town of Rockport. The Senate passed the bill earlier this month.

Ulrey told the committee that excluding large industrial customers from sharing in the plant’s production costs could end up doubling the rate increases for some of Vectren’s 760,000 residential and small business customers in Indiana.

Mike Roeder, Vectren’s vice president of government affairs and corporate communications, told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/Asw57l) before the hearing that such an exemption would “pick customer classes that win and lose.”

In November, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved a 30-year contract under which Indiana would become the primary buyer of the synthetic natural gas developer Leucadia Corp.’s Rockport plant would produce.

Indiana’s natural gas-supply deal calls for the plant’s gas to be bought for a fixed price and the Indiana Finance Authority to resell it to consumers through utilities, guaranteeing the plant’s developers a customer.

Vectren contends that under that 30-year contract, the gas price has some room to increase over time, but would start at about $6 per million BTU. Right now, that much natural gas sells for $3. Estimates are wide-ranging, but Vectren officials believe the price will stay low because natural gas is being extracted from shale deposits by a booming industry.

Vectren said its customers could end up paying more for their gas because the state would buy the Rockport plant’s synthetic gas no matter whether it’s cheaper or more expensive than the market rate for natural gas.

Gov. Mitch Daniels says the deal would lock in low rates for  Indiana ‘s natural gas users.

“All we’re saying is, the world’s changed because of shale,” Roeder said.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has said the deal would lock in low rates for Indiana’s natural gas users and would help economically depressed southwestern Indiana.

Mark Lubbers, a former Daniels aide who is an Indiana consultant for Leucadia, said large industrial customers are able to buy from diverse sources, which enables them to hedge against price changes.

He told the Ways and Means committee Tuesday that the Rockport project would do the same for other natural gas customers since the coal that will be bought for the plant historically has had more stable prices.

“It is still the smart play to diversify your supply portfolio,” Lubbers said. “Today you are 100 percent at risk to market prices.”

Rockport developer William Rosenberg said the facts Vectren laid out were all in front of the IURC when it unanimously approved the Rockport plant in November.

He said the plant owned by New York-based Leucadia would have a strong incentive to beat the market rate. The contract guarantees that over the 30-year life of the deal, and it will save consumers $100 million, Rosenberg said.

“The one thing that’s certain is that gas prices are uncertain. Gas prices over the last five, 10 years have ranged from $3 to $13,” he said. “It’s in the interest of the ratepayer to have a diversification of supply.”

___

Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

———————————————————————————————————-

Andy Ober, InsideINdianaBusiness.com

 Roeder says the company will continue to make its case to lawmakers up until a final vote.

Evansville-based Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC) says an expected Statehouse vote next week could be key in determining whether a proposed coal gasification plant moves forward. The company argues the plant slated for southwest Indiana would cost the state’s natural gas customers $800 million in its first eight years of operation. Vice President of Corporate Communications Mike Roeder says an increase in shale-based natural gas makes the 30-year deal with Indiana Gasification LLC risky.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved the 30-year contract with Indiana Gasification late last year. Roeder says at the time the project was initially proposed, it may have made sense because of the high cost of natural gas. He says the boost in supply has driven prices down.

Developers say the more than $2 billion project could create at least 200 jobs.

Source: Vectren Corp., Inside INdiana Business

Indiana House Ways and Means Committee Hearing 2/14/12 @ 9am on SB 344 includes property tax exemption for solar PV February 13, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.
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ACTION ALERT

The Indiana House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a committee hearing on SB 344 on state taxation. SB 344 was amended and passed the Indiana Senate with language which now includes a property tax exemption for solar photovoltaic systems.See below for language in the bill.

Agenda for :

Indiana House Ways and Means Committee

Monday, February 14, 2012 9:00 AM EST

Room 404 State House, Indianapolis, IN

Watch Video of the General Assembly >Please select video stream > House Ways and means

Chairman : Espich

Vice-Chair : Crouch

Members :

Cherry Chair of Budget Subcommittee, Dermody Chair Higher Ed Sub,

Pond Chair Health & Medicaid Sub, M. Smith Chair Tax Sub,

Thompson Chair K-12 Sub, Baird, Clere, Karickhoff, Kubacki,

Leonard, McClain, Truitt, Turner, Ubelhor.

Crawford R.M.M., Candelaria Reardon, Goodin, Kersey, Klinker,

Moses, Pelath, Pryor, Welch.

The following previously scheduled bills are eligible for amendment and vote only.

SB 98 – Amend & Vote Only

SB 143 – Amend & Vote Only

Authors, Sponsors/Co-Sponsors

Hearing :

>SB 0344 State taxation. Hershman, Mishler Espich, Welch<

SB 0140 Slot machine wagering tax. Kenley, Charbonneau Espich, Crawford

SB 0142 Property tax issues. Kenley, Hershman Espich, Crawford

SB 0307 Fire protection territories. Hershman, Kenley VanNatter, Welch

SB 0345 Statewide 911 system. Hershman, Wyss Thompson, Soliday, Welch

SB 0098 County highway maintenance funding. Kenley, Charbonneau Espich, Crawford

SB 0143 Automatic taxpayer refund. Kenley, Charbonneau Espich, Crawford

Language in SB 344 as it was amended and passed the Indiana State Senate now includes the following:

CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2012 (RETROACTIVE)]:

Sec. 26.1. (a) This section applies only to a solar power device that is installed after December 31, 2011.
(b) This section does not apply to a solar power device that is owned or operated by a person that provides electricity at wholesale or retail for consideration other than a person that:
(1) participates in a net metering or feed-in-tariff program offered by an electric utility with respect to the solar power device; or
(2) is the owner or host of the solar power device site and a person consumes on the site the equivalent amount of electricity that is generated by the solar power device on an annual basis even if the electricity is sold to a public utility, including a solar power device directly serving a public utility’s business operations site.
(c) For purposes of this section, “solar power device” means a device, such as a solar thermal, a photovoltaic, or other solar energy system, that is designed to use the radiant light or heat from the sun to produce electricity.
(d) The owner of real property equipped with a solar power device that is assessed as a real property improvement may have deducted annually from the assessed value of the real property an amount equal to:
(1) the assessed value of the real property with the solar power device included; minus
(2) the assessed value of the real property without the solar power device.
(e) The owner of a solar power device that is assessed as:
(1) distributable property under IC 6-1.1-8; or
(2) personal property;
may have deducted annually the assessed value of the solar power device.

SOURCE: IC 6-1.1-12-27.1; (12) SB0344.2.5. –> SECTION 5. IC 6-1.1-12-27.1, AS AMENDED BY P.L.113-2010, SECTION 26, IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2012 (RETROACTIVE)]: Sec. 27.1. Except as provided in sections 36 and 44 of this chapter and subject to section 45 of this chapter, a person who desires to claim the deduction provided by section 26 or 26.1 of this chapter must file a certified statement in duplicate, on forms prescribed by the department of local government finance, with the auditor of the county in which the real property, or mobile home, manufactured home, or solar power device is subject to assessment. With respect to real property or a solar power device that is assessed as distributable property under IC 6-1.1-8 or as personal property, the person must file the statement during the year for which the person desires to obtain the deduction. Except as provided in sections 36 and 44 of this chapter and subject to section 45 of this chapter, with respect to a mobile home which is not assessed as real property, the person must file the statement during the twelve (12) months before March 31 of each year for which the person desires to obtain the deduction. The person must:
(1) own the real property, mobile home, or manufactured home or own the solar power device;
or
(2) be buying the real property, mobile home, or manufactured home, or solar power device under contract; or
(3) be leasing the real property from the real property owner and be subject to assessment and property taxation with respect to the solar power device;

on the date the statement is filed under this section. The statement may be filed in person or by mail. If mailed, the mailing must be postmarked on or before the last day for filing. On verification of the statement by the assessor of the township in which the real property, or mobile home, manufactured home, or solar power device is subject to assessment, or the county assessor if there is no township assessor for the township, the county auditor shall allow the deduction.

Indy Star: Gov. Daniels lifts strict security measures at Statehouse; Law to regulate “indoor noise pollution”? January 4, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.
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Dear Readers:

Although I do applaud Governor Daniels move to lift the strict security measures at the State House, I do believe there is a need to enforce noise levels. I could be wrong but at times I felt that the decibel level generated by rallies and protests exceeded reasonable indoor decibel levels. The excessive noise generated by beating objects was disruptive to the point where a person could not hear themselves think no less have a conversation on their cell phone in the hallways. I sincerely hope that there is a way to impose reasonable noise restrictions without infringing on the public’s First Amendment Rights to “freedom of speech.” Maybe state lawmakers need to investigate a law to regulate “indoor noise pollution”. Yes, it does really exist my friends. That’s just my two cents.

Laura Ann Arnold

 

11:26 AM, Jan. 4, 2012

Written by Mary Beth Schneider, Indianapolis Star

Gov. Mitch Daniels this morning rescinded the new security policy which had limited public access to the Statehouse.

Daniels said he made the decision this morning after consulting with legislative leaders and taking into consideration public reaction to the new rules, which had capped access at about 3,000.

“I’ve asked the fire marshal to rescind the new policy and to restore the traditional unlimited access here to the building,” Daniels said. “That’s in place right now. All three doors are open. … We will do that unless and until there’s a problem.”

Daniels said that “anything goes” policy will continue “as long as that works.”

If situations arise where public safety is endangered, he said, the police “have my authority to do something different at that point.”

Daniels said the security issues were “not idle concerns.”

But, he added, “Indiana respects fervently the rights of minorities” including those of labor union members.

He said that the protests last year resulted in some groups, including schools, canceling trips.

“There has to be some balance but I want to show respect to those who argued against the new (security) policy. They made good points,” he said. “When it comes to a call here, they are right that we should err on the right of openness and hope there’s not a problem. If one develops, deal with it then.”

Daniels said it will be up to the Indiana State Police to decide whether to reduce the massive police presence at the building. While traditionally a handful of state police are posted at entrances and exits to the building, and in key places such as the governor’s office, today — the opening day of the legislative session — there were dozens of police, some with guard dogs, inside and outside the building. Long lines of the public, most of them union members here to protest the so-called “right to work” legislation,” queued outside the east entrance, the only door open to the general public.

Lobbyists, reporters with ID badges and those with scheduled visits such as tour groups had expedited entry through the west entrance.

The policy was announced on Dec. 30, and immediately was viewed by some as an attempt to stifle the union protests against the “right to work” legislation, which bans companies and unions from negotiating a contract that requires non-members to pay fees. Daniels and GOP legislative leaders have made its passage their top priority this session.

Its passage from committee in 2011 sparked both large union protests and a five-week walk-out by House Democrats who wanted to stop it and other bills aimed at unions and public education. While it was pulled from the table in the 2011 session, the bill is expected to pass this session due to the large Republican majorities in both the House and Senate who favor it.

But police said the protests of 2011 convinced them they needed stronger security policies in the building. This morning, the Statehouse resembled an armed fortress, with police even guarding one elevator that was designated for use by elected officials and their staff. Rescinding the policy restored that elevator to public use.

Labor union protesters said they felt the large police presence was meant to intimidate them. One Republican lawmaker, State Rep. Tom Saunders, said he found it an “embarrassment.”

Daniels said he initially did not overrule the state police recommendations because he considers himself a “temporary occupant” of the building. But reading what was said about the rules and listening to the criticism, he said, he decided Indiana should return to the old rules.

“We may have one of the most open, if not the most open, environment of any place. It’s fine. We like it that way, as long as it works,” he said.

Indy Star Columnist Tully: Statehouse restrictions will hurt more than union rallies January 4, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.
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by Matthew Tully, Indianapolis Star, Jan. 4, 2012

We all understand the need for tight security at the Statehouse. For years, in fact, I questioned why visitors could walk into the state’s most notable government building without having to go through even the most basic security check.

It seemed as if Indiana officials, in their admirable quest to hold onto the tradition of openness at the Statehouse, hadn’t accounted for events such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks. They finally relented and added screening checkpoints a few years ago.

So I’m going to restrain myself and not pound my fist too hard on the desk as I talk about the newly enhanced Statehouse security rules. But those rules are worthy of a decent dose of outrage, as they seem to have been developed without much public discussion, without much concern for openness, and at a time that is certain to — coincidentally or not — frustrate labor union activists who are preparing to launch hallway rallies over anti-union legislation.

Let’s make one thing clear: your view on the security issue should not be based on whether or not you support unions. While the unions are gearing up for a round of protests when the legislative session kicks off this week, this new policy will affect Hoosiers of all political ideologies, and perhaps many who just want to visit a spectacularly beautiful and historic building. Most important, it would send a clearly un-democratic message in the state’s epicenter of democracy.

The part of the rule that has received the most attention limits the number of people in the Statehouse at any time to 3,000. After accounting for government workers, reporters and lobbyists, whose presence is essentially guaranteed, that means somewhere south of 1,500 visitors can be in the sprawling Statehouse at any one time. During days of heated legislative debates, that’s far too few.

And in another swipe at convenience, the Daniels administration announced last week that visitors will have to enter and be screened at one Statehouse entrance, a move likely to cause long lines on the winter days when the legislature is in session. This unfriendly, old-school government rule runs counter to the customer-friendly message long espoused by the administration.

Senate Democratic leader Vi Simpson called the moves “symbolic of a closed, elitist government which seeks to silence the voices of persons who disagree with them.”

I can’t prove such motive, and I hope that’s not what this is. But the timing sends a bad message, coming on the eve of a major battle over changes in union rules that the administration supports. Going forward, rallies over everything from home-schooling to abortion to taxes also could be affected.

Security makes sense. But aspects of this policy do not. For instance, I was struck by a provision limiting the size of signs, often carried into the building by protesters. Such signs can be no larger than two-feet by two-feet. Is there really a safety concern so dire that citizens cannot be allowed to express themselves with larger signs criticizing lawmakers, legislation or their government in general?

In the end, here’s my biggest problem with the new security rules: they have been arrogantly tossed down by state officials without fully considering the impact on ordinary Hoosiers. Those crafting the policy should have had as their goal passing rules that, while providing safety, seek to ensure as much public openness as possible. Every new restriction should be a last resort.

When lawmakers gathered in November, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, celebrated the many “historic transparencies” the House has adopted in recent years, such as making sure all House proceedings are available on the Internet. Those changes have been wonderful, and Bosma, who has long championed them, should be at the front of the line of critics of this new policy. He might consult with Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, who has questioned the constitutionality of the new policies.

Of course, this doesn’t mean protesters should be allowed to disrupt the work of government, or that crowd control efforts are inherently bad, or that an occupancy limit of some kind isn’t necessary. It simply means people deserve the chance to be heard by their lawmakers, even if that is sometimes uncomfortable.

Since learning of the new policy, I’ve had this vision: On a cold winter morning sometime this month, four Indiana residents get in their respective cars and head for Indianapolis: A home-school advocate from Marion, a union worker from Evansville, a small-businesswoman from Madison and a tea-party activist from Valparaiso. As Hoosiers before them have for generations, all four want to go to the Statehouse to express their views — whether those views are conservative, liberal, moderate or nonpartisan.

But when they arrive at the steps of the state’s most majestic building, the doors are closed. Others who got up earlier, or who had fewer miles to travel, or who were part of a better organized group, have already filled the People’s Building.

And with that, as one critic said last week, the Statehouse will be the People’s Building no longer.

Reach Matthew Tully at (317) 444-6033 or via email at matthew.tully@indystar.com.

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2012 Indiana General Assembly Legislative Calendar; Fast pace expected–“Don’t blink” or you might miss it January 3, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.
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The 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly reconvenes tomorrow on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. The short session or non-budget session of the Indiana state legislature takers place at a very quick pace. In the recent past state legislators were not in session on Fridays, however, because state lawmakers will be in recess for the Super Bowl from February 1-6 (Super Bowl is on February 5, 2012) the Indiana House plans to be in session on Friday’s in January.

Some deadlines have already passed. The internal deadline for most House members to request bill drafts from Legislative Services Agency was in mid-December 2011. Also Friday, January 27th will be the deadline for Committee Reports to be filed in the Indiana House. Therefore, bills introduced in the House will likely need to receive a committee hearing no later than Thursday, January 26th. That gives just three weeks for committee hearings.

Rep. David Yarde II (R-Garrett) is expected to file a bill addressing expansion of the state property tax exemption for solar pv. WATCH THIS BLOG FOR DETAILS! If you are interested please send an email to: IndianaDG.org@gmail.com.

Get involved! Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, newspaper or public library to find out when Third House or Legislative Town Hall meetings will be held in your community. This is one of the best ways to meet and to talk to your state legislators without coming to the State House.

Laura Ann Arnold

LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR FOR 2012 SESSION 

Mon., Oct. 24, 2011 Senators may begin filing bills for the 2012 Session.
(Senate Rule 42) Senators can file no more than a total of ten bills or joint resolutions (Senate Rule 48(b))
Tues., Nov. 22, 2011 Organization Day for the 2012 Session (IC 2-2.1-1-3(a)) –Representatives may begin filing bills (House Rule 104). Representatives shall be permitted to file no more than five bills (House Rule 109.2)
Thurs., Dec. 29, 2011 Senators may file only two bills per business day
beginning today. (Senate Rule 48(b))
Mon., Jan. 9, 2012 Latest day session must reconvene (IC 2-2.1-1-3(b))
Fri., Jan. 6, 2012 Deadline for filing Senate bills (Senate Rule 48(b)) not later than 4:00 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 9, 2012 Deadline for filing House bills (Fourth meeting day in January)(House Rule 108.2, not later than 2:00 p.m.)
Thurs., Jan. 10, 2012 Filing of House vehicle bills (Fifth meeting day in
January)(House Rule 107
Seven (7) calendar days after last filing Last day Senate bills may be assigned to Senate committees. (Seven (7) calendar days following the last day for filing Senate bills and resolutions (Senate Rule 49(a))
Ten (10) calendar days after filing Last day House bi11s may be assigned to committees
unless committees have not been appointed, in which case bills shall be referred within ten (10) calendar days after the appointment of committees. (House Rule 113)
Fri., Jan. 27, 2012 Deadline for Committee Reports in House on House Bills
Wed., Feb. 1, 2012 Last day for 3rd reading of Senate bills in Senate (Senate Rule 79(a), subject to Senate Rule 88(b))
Noon Wed., Feb. 1, 2012 Last day for Senate to receive House bills (Senate Rule 79(c), subject to Senate Rule 88(b))
Tues., Jan. 31, 2012 Last day for 3rd reading of House bills in House (House Rule 147.2 )
Mon., Mar. 5, 2012 Last day for 3rd reading of Senate bills in House (House Rule 148.2)
Wed., Feb. 29, 2012 Last day for 3rd reading of House bills in the Senate
(Senate Rule 79(b))
Sat., Mar. 3, 2012 Last day for House adoption of conference committee
reports without Rules Committee approval (House Rule 162.2)
Wed., Feb. 29, 2012 Last day for Senate adoption of conference committee
reports without Rules Committee approval (Senate Rule 86(k))
Wed., Mar. 14, 2012 Last day for adjournment of both houses (IC 2-2.1-1-3(b)).
Sine Die!

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WSJ: New Battle Looms on Labor ; Indiana Push for ‘Right to Work’ Bill Is Latest Front in Midwest Fight Over Unions November 22, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.
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Dear Blog Readers:

Just in case you doubted the importance of the “right to work” battle during the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly, then you need to read the article below from the Wall Street Journal which ran on page A3 in the Tuesday, November 22, 2011 edition.  I think this article helps to put the issue in perspective nationally. Clearly “right to work” will be the 800 lb guerrilla in the room during the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Laura Ann Arnold

NOVEMBER 21, 2011, 9:27 P.M. ET, Wall Street Journal

By AMY MERRICK

Indiana House Republicans said Monday they would make passing a so-called right-to-work bill their top priority in the coming legislative session, re-opening another front in a battle over labor unions that has roiled much of the Midwest this year.

INDIANA

Indianapolis Star/Associated Press Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, center, said Monday that Republicans would make passing a ‘right to work’ bill their top priority.

The Indiana bill would affect the rights of all private-sector workers, allowing employees at unionized companies to refrain from joining the union and to avoid paying union dues. Republicans and some company executives say such a bill would create jobs in a state where unemployment stands at 8.9%, while Democrats and labor leaders say it wouldn’t help unemployment and would crimp incomes.

If the measure succeeds, Indiana will be the first state to pass a right-to-work law since Oklahoma in 2001, though such measures have been proposed in many state legislatures this year. Currently 22 states have right-to-work laws, and they tend to have the lowest unionization rates.

The Indiana announcement comes just weeks after neighboring Ohio voted by a wide margin on Nov. 8 to repeal a broader law limiting collective bargaining for public-sector workers. A Wisconsin law similar to the Ohio bill, meanwhile, was a driving factor behind the campaign launched last week to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

INDIANA

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said his state’s situation was different from Ohio’s as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, had already abolished collective bargaining for public employees, in 2005. The Indiana law would be less controversial, he said, as it applies only to the private sector, where a smaller proportion of workers are covered by unions. In addition, it wouldn’t affect police officers and fire fighters—a big reason for the opposition in Ohio.

Mr. Bosma said that he planned to introduce the bill Jan. 4, the first scheduled day of the new session. “It’s very clear that we’re not going to be able to dip into the quarter of a million Hoosiers who are out of work without addressing the last barrier to job creation in our state,” he said in an interview.

House Republicans said some executives at site-selection firms had told them business leaders would prefer to relocate to a state with weaker union protections.

Democrats and union leaders said the measure was an attack on the existence of unions, and vowed to fight it. When Indiana Republicans pushed a right-to-work bill in the spring, most House Democrats fled to Urbana, Ill., refusing to return until after the GOP withdrew the plan.

House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer said passing a right-to-work law would lower wages and make workplaces more dangerous without bringing new jobs to Indiana. “It’s disappointing that they’re not reading the actions in other states, where the public is repulsing and repealing these anti-worker bills,” he said in an interview. He said he wouldn’t rule out Democrats leaving the state again, but said they had other options.

The Indiana AFL-CIO, which represents more than 300,000 workers, said it would fight the bill. “It forces organized labor to represent workers who refuse to pay for services, thus severely depleting their ability to effectively represent dues-paying members,” said Nancy Guyott, president of the state chapter.

Mr. Daniels last year advised Republicans not to push a right-to-work bill, saying it would distract the legislature from education changes he wanted to make. In recent weeks he has said he expects lawmakers to propose a bill again, but declined to say whether he would campaign to pass it.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Daniels said Monday the governor would explain his views at a later date. In an interview this month, the governor claimed Indiana loses one-third of potential business relocations because of its strong union protections.

Write to Amy Merrick at amy.merrick@wsj.com