Legislation Favorable to Drug, Medical Device Manufacturers Passes Senate, Heads to President

Legislation which passed the Senate Thursday ensures that drug and medical devices can move to the market quicker. Manufacturers of these products would pay higher user fees and the revenue raised would help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review the items in a more expedited process. The law governing this process was set to expire by September 30, so it was imperative that the Senate act before members left for their August recess.

The legislation passed the Senate 94-1 with both Indiana senators supporting the legislation. The bill was not amended in the Senate and so therefore it now heads to the President for final signature.

The Indiana Chamber advocated for the passage of this bill during the Hoosiers Work for Health summit in July.

The legislation aligns with the Chamber’s legislative policy regarding the FDA: “The FDA has an important responsibility to make sure consumers get expeditious access to safe and effective products. Thus, the Indiana Chamber supports a well-resourced FDA, especially in the area of drugs and medical devices, through appropriated funds and user fees (tied to specific and measurable performance requirements for the FDA).”

Taxes and Public Finance: A Very Early Look at What We Are Following

We have yet to see the complete list of bills that have been introduced, and no bills having primarily to do with tax have yet been heard in committee. But of those that are available for viewing and assigned to committee, quite a few are worthy of note. They may or may not ultimately get a hearing, so it cannot be said that they are moving. Nevertheless, these bills are ones to keep an eye on.

Two measures will undoubtedly move through to the end of session – albeit with the expected/unexpected twists and turns. House Bill 1001 on the budget currently contains the Holcomb administration’s spending proposals – that is until the Ways and Means Committee has its way with it. Accompanying it will be HB 1002, the measure for long-term transportation funding (see Mark Lawrance’s infrastructure story).

There are the usual sales tax exemption and sales tax holiday bills, which historically have not been favored by the budget makers: HB 1063, HB 1111 and SB 53. There are many dealing with property tax assessment and property tax appeals, which could get some attention: HB 1046, HB 1056, HB 1105, HB 1198, HB 1229, HB 1299, SB 292, SB 331, SB 350 and SB 415. Meanwhile, SB 449 addresses how personal property tax audits can be funded; SB 308 would take heavy equipment that is rented off the property tax rolls and puts an excise tax on the rentals; HB 1247 creates a minimum property tax fee; and SB 342 revisits tax increment financing.

On the local tax front, HB 1129 keeps up the ongoing work on local option income (LOIT) taxes while HB 1096 grants broad authority to locals to adopt food and beverage taxes.

Interestingly, and unnecessarily, HB 1160 seeks a further study of the Tax Court (on top of the review conducted by the Supreme Court just last year.) Tax attorneys will be interested in SB 440 as it gets into some procedural issues.

This is just a small sampling of what has been filed. Once bills involving tax matters begin to make their way through the committees, we will report on those that are of consequence to the business community.

Chamber Celebrates Three Key Highlights of the 2012 Session

The 2012 legislative session should be remembered for far more than being the forum for Indiana becoming the 23rd right-to-work state, says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

"While right-to-work was deservedly the headliner, we finished with the passage of two impressive supporting acts: the statewide smoking ban and the inheritance tax elimination. Both have the potential to positively impact Hoosiers for generations to come," he offers
 
Details and specific comments from Brinegar on these three public policies:

Right-to-work for employees (HB 1001) – Prohibits unions from forcing Indiana workers to join or pay dues and fees to a labor union to get or keep a job in this state; makes it the employees’ choice. Does not eliminate unions or collective bargaining.

"With the passage of right-to-work, Indiana has further distinguished itself from neighboring states and given companies another big reason to bring their business and jobs here – and not there. In the five weeks since it passed, there has already been documented interest from several companies now putting Indiana at the top of the list for their business relocation or expansion."

Statewide smoking ban (HB 1149) – Prohibits smoking in the majority of workplaces (bars/taverns, gambling institutions are biggest exceptions), all restaurants and within eight feet of a building’s public entrance. Local governments may enact stricter ordinances.

"Smoking has direct financial ramifications for all businesses that offer health care insurance and the employees who are covered, not to mention the health implications for those non-smokers who unavoidably encounter second-hand smoke.

"Indiana will now protect 95% of Hoosiers while at work and also allow citizens to eat at a restaurant without having to encounter cigarette or cigar smoke. That is a huge positive development and legislators should be commended for coming together and taking that important step at this time."

Elimination of the state’s inheritance tax (SB 293) – Phases out the inheritance tax incrementally over a nine-year period beginning in 2013, with elimination of the tax complete in 2022. Also expands the more favorably-treated Class A category of inheritors and raises the inheritance amount (currently very low) that’s excluded from the tax; both provisions take effect this year.

"This tax only amounted to 1% of total state revenue but made things unnecessarily burdensome for so many Hoosiers. For a small family-owned business, the inheritance tax could be a tremendous hindrance to even continuing after the death of the owner."

Session in Review: Frustrating at Times, but Satisfying

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar wraps up the 2011 Legislative Session. While frustrations included the House Democratic exodus and lack of township reforms, he labels the session "overwhelmingly satisfying" due to positive education reforms, tax cuts and immigration reform that was not as punitive to businesses as it could have been.

IndianaNet Focused on Customer Feedback, Upcoming Legislative Activity

IndianaNet, the Chamber’s one-stop-shop for legislative information in Indiana, recently finished compiling data from a customer survey. More than 91% of survey respondents rated their overall experience with the bill-tracking service as “very good” or “excellent.” I am pleased with this and other positive findings of the survey but there is always room for improvement. The survey generated both qualitative and quantitative responses that will help us evaluate and improve the system to best meet subscribers’ needs.

IndianaNet will be closely following the State Legislature’s Interim Study Committees occurring throughout the summer months. Much of the legislation and policy discussions debated during the next legislative session will be formulated during these meetings. All related materials, including meeting minutes, will be available on the IndianaNet web site as committees meet.

Political information, including contribution data and fundraising calendars, is also available. IndianaNet users will notice an increase in the frequency of political information updates as more information is available during the upcoming election season.

Learn more about the IndianaNet system here.