Rep. Dennis Tyler

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Received an update from Rep. Dennis Tyler.  It is not nearly as detailed as Rep. Lutz’s column.  There are a few bills he did not address. (See Rep. Lutz’s entry.) You can decide for yourself which representative actually REPRESENTS the people.

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March 20, 2009
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STATEHOUSE REPORT FROM REP. DENNIS TYLER

INDIANAPOLIS- For those who have asked, here are the facts about property tax caps in Indiana.

Also known as circuit breakers, the caps are designed to limit property tax bills for homes, farms and businesses to a fixed percentage of a property’s assessed valuation.

Initially enacted on a limited basis to address concerns about unchecked property tax growth in certain areas of the state, the caps became a critical part of the bipartisan property tax reform program passed by the Legislature in 2008.

Lawmakers chose a two-part approach in enacting these caps: putting them into state law, then locking them into place in the Indiana Constitution.

Many people don’t realize that property tax caps are already in state law (Indiana Code 6-1.1-20.6-7 and 7.5).

In 2009, they limit a homeowner’s bill to 1.5 percent of assessed valuation, rental and farm property to 2.5 percent and businesses to 3.5 percent.

In 2010, the caps will lower to 1 percent for homes, 2 percent for farms and rental units and 3 percent for businesses.

To put the caps into the state Constitution first requires passage of a joint resolution by two separately elected Indiana General Assemblies. Once passed by the Legislature, the people of Indiana get their chance to consider the question through a statewide referendum. If approved in that vote, the provision would go into the Constitution.

In 2008, lawmakers took the first step, passing a joint resolution that would set the constitutional caps at the 1-2-3 levels. In order to complete our end of the process, we must pass a similar joint resolution either this year or in the 2010 session. Citizens then would vote on the question in the November 2010 general election.

Here is where things get interesting.

Some legislators and the governor would have you believe we need to pass the resolution this year. Other legislators believe it makes more sense to wait until the 2010 session before acting. By waiting until next year, there should be more information to determine the impact of the property tax caps already in state law on homeowners, schools and local units of government. Since the caps are still being phased into place, we still do not have a clear, complete picture of the overall impact.

Many homeowners are now contacting their legislators because they believe there is a disparity between the tax relief they receive and the relief being received by landlords, who appear to be getting much more.

Another year means more data and a better-informed decision.

Remember this. If we pass the resolution this year, the people of Indiana won’t vote on it until November 2010. If we wait until the 2010 session to act, the referendum vote still won’t take place until November 2010.

In 2009, I believe we have higher priorities: passing a plan to put Hoosiers back to work as soon as possible and enacting a state budget…which is the one thing that our Constitution requires us to do this year.

In the House, we continue to work on legislation sent to us from the Indiana Senate. At the same time, we are keeping an eye on bills that passed the House and are working their way through the other chamber.

While we await news about the Senate’s proposals to create jobs, as well as their budget priorities, a Senate committee has passed a proposal to address the state’s unemployment insurance crisis.

While the plan does provide a way to replenish the bankrupt Unemployment Trust Fund, the Senate proposal reduces benefits and tightens eligibility standards. At a time when more than 300,000 Hoosiers are out of work, I believe that it is bad public policy to cut unemployment benefits and make it more difficult to receive them.

That is not the right way to protect out-of-work Hoosiers as they struggle to care for their families while looking for new jobs in a depressed economy.

If you need to reach me during the 2009 session, you can call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of 1-800-382-9842, write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204, or submit your comments to my web site at http://www.in.gov/H34. While visiting my web site, you also can sign up to receive regular e-mail updates from the Legislature.

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Thank you for your interest in state legislative matters. Please visit my website at:www.in.gov/h34

By placing this update on the blog, it is not meant as an endorsement by Rep. Dennis Tyler. It is for informational purposes only.

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