Marriage amendment, online taxes highlight town meeting

Authored by Jim Langham on Feb 4, 2013

Local legislators State Senator Travis Holdman and Representative Matt Lehman told those attending a town meeting at the Adams County Public Library on Saturday that they favor slowing down the train carrying legislation concerning the controversial marriage amendment.
“The marriage amendment does not have to be resolved this session,” said Holdman. “It will probably be voted on next session. Ours is comparable to the California case in the Supreme Court which says people as a whole don’t have the ability to vote on this. I think we should wait to discuss this next session.”
“I’m asked almost daily about the gay marriage amendment,” said Lehman. “If we pass it this session and the Supreme Court weighs against it, there would be no way to get it off the ballot. We need to stay focused on what needs to get done for Indiana now; I’m not in favor of voting on it this session.”
Lehman said that one of his biggest concerns is working together as partners for what is best for Hoosiers.
“Somebody said to me, ‘if we do that, it’s a shot at the Obama administration,’” said Lehman. “I said, ‘we’re not taking shots; we’re trying to move good legislation.’”
Lehman told a large group of interested patrons that House Bill 1007, also referred to as the Amazon tax, will get out of the house this session.
“This will create a level playing field for the online field versus retail,” said Lehman.
Lehman stressed that the bill doesn’t create a new tax, it just means that taxes will be collected at time of purchase.
“There’s stories of people walking into a retail store and ordering an online product from inside the store to avoid taxes,” said Lehman. “This is going to end that.
“This applies only to online retailers that have a physical presence in the state,” continued Lehman. “The bill is intended to ensure a level playing field between brick and mortar retailers and online retailers with a nexus in the state.”
Lehman said that the bill is expected to generate roughly between $39.6 and $114.3 million in revenue.
Another bill that Lehman has created allows a school district to sell a vacant school building after the building is made available for sale or lease to a charter school for at least two years (was originally four years). It also allows for a school district to request a waiver from the Indiana Department of Education bypassing the two year requirement if they feel that no charter school has an interest in the building.
In our region, the law is pertinent to the intention of East Allen County Schools to sell the elementary school in Monroeville to the local Catholic Church for use as a Catholic school.
“That building will be used for education; that’s what it was intended for,” said Lehman. “If no charter comes forward within 30 days with a credible objection, the school can dispose of the building in any lawful manner. A charter school cannot purchase a school building and then flip the property for a profit.”
Holdman is currently working on legislation to improve the Indiana Department of Human Services. Among those efforts are:
- Senate Bill 125, intended to establish the “Commission of Improving the Status of Children,”
- Senate Bill 164, which gives local prosecutors the same authority as Department of Children’s Services to file court petitions for a child to receive protective services,
- Senate Bill 392, which requires DCS to employ additional staff and implement greater collaboration between Indiana’s child abuse hotline and local DCS offices to better protect Hoosier children.
When asked about Ball State pulling charters from two Fort Wayne schools, Holdman replied, “this shows the system is working. Ball State has pretty high standards for charter schools they sponsor. They said, ‘if you don’t meet the standards, we pull your charter.’”
Concerning Governor Pence’s wishes to do a tax cut, Lehman said, “I support a tax cut but I don’t think it’s right for the state right now. Whether we cut or not will come down to the last 10 days of the session. If the money is there, we will do it.”

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