Legislative Update

S.B. 302 – Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen – Includes provision that would allow professional licensing boards to participate electronically without a quorum present. HSPA has suggested this is contrary to normal practice. Indiana Professional Licensing Agency is concerned about ability to gather members in emergency situation to deal with revocation of a license or permit. HSPA considering amendment that would limit electronic participation without quorum present in emergency meeting to deal with disciplinary actions.

 

S.B. 314 – Sen. David Ford, R-Hartford City – Includes language to allow state department of agriculture to protect economic development  negotiation records. Original language is more protective than what law currently provides for other entities. HSPA has suggested the language be changed to match other state entities. Sen. Jackman has agreed to offer such an amendment.

 

S.B. 316 – Sen. Gary Dillon, R-Pierceton – Sets up provisions for disciplining veterinarians in a similar fashion that now exists for doctors. Veterinarians did not include language as they originally discussed that would have closed access to records of inspections of farm operations.

 

H.B. 1122 – Rep. Scott Reske, R-Pendleton – includes provision that puts juvenile traffic offenses under juvenile court jurisdiction. This would allow for those cases to be conducted behind closed doors. Proponents say change must be made to satisfy federal requirements for funds.

 

H.B. 1341 – Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville – includes provision that allows Ports of Indiana to protect economic development records to same extent as other entities.

 

S.B. 129 – Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond – would require public agencies give same notice to interested citizens that it gives to media. Didn’t get a hearing. HSPA FOI committee will be asked to include this concept in a bill for 2009.

 

S.B. 231 – Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond – bill will bring greater light to how public money or casino money going to private entities is spent.

 

S.B. 324 – Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond – bill would allow Public Access Counselor to fine public agencies for deliberate violations of access laws. Bill died in committee with a 5-5 vote. Enforcement will be issue HSPA FOI committee will look at for 2009 legislature.

 

H.B. 1275 – Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville – bill re-establishes copy fee language inadvertently omitted last session that prohibits labor and overhead from being included in determining actual cost to produce a document copy.

 

H.B. 1340 – Rep. Joe Micon, D-West Lafayette – bill would require a committee review privatization agreements before they could be approved by the governor.

 

 

A Senate Bill has been introduced and will be voted out of committee tomorrow.  It is on agriculture.  No need to read all 20 pages but you will find some interesting sections at the end.

 

 

After reading though the whole SB 314,  I have several concerns of which the most grievous are found at the end of this bill.  My comments are in blue.  Kind of makes me recall some of the earlier German government steps in the 30’s.

 

Jim

 

 The sections are:

 

SECTION 58. IC 15-9-2-3, AS AMENDED BY P.L.1-2006, SECTION 294, IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2008]:

Sec. 3.

 (C) Assisting Indiana agricultural businesses with developing partnerships with the Indiana economic development corporation.

 

This doesn’t sound too bad until you get down to Sec. 5

Sec. 5. The department shall promote the growth of agricultural businesses by doing the following:
(1) Assisting agricultural businesses in obtaining and preparing the permits required to conduct business in Indiana.
(2) Serving as a liaison between agricultural businesses, state agencies, and local units of government.

Again this doesn’t sound bad but it sets a precedent as no such help is mandated for other businesses.  This is selective and would require even more employees.   Already, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is under a Governor’s mandate to see that all agriculture related permits are expedited (which requires, I’m told, six or seven full time state employees.)  The director of IDEM, Easily, told us at a meeting a year ago that they expect to get permits issued within two weeks of the application.  Imagine how much time citizens will have to find out about pending applications for operations in their neighborhood.

 

But what is really bothersome to me is when you tie in the following as written in section 6:

 

Sec. 6. Except as directed by a court order, financial or application information obtained by the department that relates to economic development or promotion of agriculture is confidential for purposes of IC 5-14-3-4(a)(1), and may be released only to persons the department allows to see or review the information.

 

This allows for NO public oversight of how tax payer money is spent.  In fact, it mandates it be secret!   No meeting or discussion about what is done with this department that relates to economic development, financing or promotion of (including who gets the contracts to promote ag or anything related to ag) would not be open to the public.