A special session for special interests chicken recipes for kids meals

Now, legislative leaders say those tax bills are among the handful of "critical" unresolved issues that justify returning to the statehouse for a special session in may. The special session, which is expected to cost at least $30,000 a day, will be the first in nearly a decade.

The 11th-hour changes to the lengthy tax bills — one was 119 pages — would benefit some of the state’s most powerful and politically connected corporations, raising a perturbing question: are taxpayers paying for a special session for special interests?

"I would say it wasn’t as much special interest as it was promoting business in indiana," said sen. Travis holdman, the markle republican who had a hand in crafting all three bills.

The tax bills were among half a dozen that failed to get a final vote before the chaotic conclusion of the regular session.Session special


other casualties included a funding boost for school safety, regulations for driver-less vehicles, and a takeover plan for muncie schools.

The tax bills received far less public attention than the other issues, largely because they were routine "clean-up" bills for the state departments of revenue and local government finance.

The final versions emerged so late that they hit the senate floor with less than 10 minutes until the session’s midnight deadline. Together, they had grown to nearly 200 pages, but the senate voted on all three with no discussion in a matter of five minutes.

"People didn’t even know what was in there," said rep. Greg porter, an indianapolis democrat who was initially assigned to negotiate on one of the bills.Special session special

Rep. Dan leonard, a republican furniture store owner from huntington, was the author of one of the measures — house bill 1104. It began as the annual update bill for the indiana department of local government finance, a necessary but mundane piece of legislation that usually receives scant attention.

Such measures are often called "christmas tree" bills because they tend to attract "ornaments" — provisions benefiting the home districts of other lawmakers who see the bill as a convenient and reliable vehicle that will travel all the way to the end of the legislative process.

As leonard’s bill moved through the legislature, for example, it picked up a provision intended to make financing easier for a $300 million private redevelopment project on the old general electric campus in fort wayne.Session special

Then, on the final day, a handful of exceptions to indiana’s alcohol laws were added, even though lawmakers are in the midst of a two-year effort to simplify the state’s alcohol code. Some were part of earlier bills that failed to advance.

One was requested by hendricks commercial properties, which is planning to redevelop the former coca cola bottling plant on massachusetts avenue. The provision would allow hendricks to obtain a single alcohol permit for a planned food hall with multiple vendors and restaurants.

Another would allow liquor to be served from golf course beverage carts — a change sought by french lick casino and resort, where both political parties often hold fundraisers and events.

"Anybody who had something they wanted to stick in, they put it in (house bill) 1104," leonard said. "I think rep. (ed) delaney had it framed right.Session special he called it a ‘dump truck bill.’"

One involved the annual update of the state’s tax code to conform with changes to the federal tax code. Usually this is an uneventful process, but this year was different because of the federal tax overhaul that president donald trump signed into law late last year.

Typically, indiana relies on federal gross adjusted income as the starting point for state tax filers. Because the trump tax plan eliminated many deductions and loopholes, indiana’s tax base would grow significantly, quietly boosting state revenue by an estimated $348 million over the next three years.

In the final weeks of the session, house speaker brian bosma and rep. Tim brown, the house’s chief budget writer, had cited that potential windfall in explaining how lawmakers could afford to entertain several new spending proposals, including an increase of up to $100 million in school funding over the next two years.Session special

But during the final hours of the legislative session, republican leaders changed the state tax code update, departing from a few portions of the federal tax code that would have resulted in $185 million in higher taxes for multi-national corporations.

The changes came at the request of indianapolis-based eli lilly and several other large companies with operations in indiana. They argued that indiana had never received that tax revenue in the past and that, if left in the hands of employers, it could spur additional business investments in the state.

At 11:54 p.M. — just six minutes before the session’s midnight deadline — republicans in the house rules committee tried to move the bill to the house floor for a final vote, even though democrats still hadn’t seen $185 million in changes to the new version.Special session

The final tax-related measure, senate bill 242, began as another annual "clean-up" bill for the indiana department of revenue — but it, too, evolved to include a significant tax break for large companies.

The bill would have exempted from the state’s 7 percent sales tax any trucks, pavers, vehicle parts and fuel purchased by a hot mix asphalt company. Those companies include the state’s big highway construction contractors, which tend to contribute heavily to political campaigns.

Holdman, who is chairman of the senate tax and fiscal policy committee, said that it didn’t make sense to collect sales tax from road builders since the customer is usually state or local government.

But the bill does not guarantee that any savings realized by the companies will be passed along in their roadwork bids, and no study is required to see if that happens.Session special

While many of the special interest provisions in the three tax bills received little notice or debate during the regular session — especially those slipped in on the final day — it remains to be seen whether they will be more extensively vetted during the upcoming special session.

On one hand, lawmakers will be under intense pressure to keep the special session as short as possible. Public outcry about the cost of a special session — which many people feel should have been avoidable — has already prompted legislative leaders and many rank-and-file lawmakers to pledge to give their special session pay back to the state or donate it to charity.

But with three complicated tax bills — and all their "christmas ornaments" — among the issues at play during the special session, there may also be pressure to slow down.Session special

"I don’t want a rama-jama session," said rep. Ed delaney, D-indianapolis. "I think that’s inappropriate, too. If they think there are issues important enough to need a special session, then they should be important enough for full and open debate."