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Fighting for farmers can be a tiring job

Fighting for farmers can be a tiring job
Katrina Hall of Indiana Farm Bureau matches wits with legislators on property taxes.

One Indiana House Representative whispered to me recently when she was out of earshot range, "Man, she is really good, she knows her stuff." He was talking about Katrina Hall, director of legislative services for Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. that's high praise coming from a House member.

Related: Indiana legislative victory: Property taxes you won't have to pay

Tax crusader: Katrina Hall doesn't wear a cape, and she's not about to jump out the window outside her office to leap over tall buildings, but when it comes to property tax reform for farmers, she know how to get the job done.

Hall, by all accounts, was one of the driving forces behind major property tax benefits farmers will glean from the action of the Indiana legislature this session. It's not really relief, because if you're a farmer or landowner, your property tax on bare farmland won't go down, at least not in the near future. In fact, it will go up, but not nearly as high or as fast as it would have if legislators hadn't intervened, backed by Hall and her team of Farm Bureau lobbyists at every turn.

Hall seems to thrive on knowing how taxes are figured, something that makes most people's heads spin. She's also adept at helping understand property taxes from a farmer's point of view.

When a legislative committee held a forum on business taxes last fall, Hall was invited to testify. Partially based on her input, when the committee issued a report of 19 recommendations for tax reform, the top three concerned property taxes for farmers. All three were enacted in one form or another this spring.

How important is it to have someone on your side who understands the process right there, in the heat of the battle, when the political process reaches its climax, just before adjournment? This year while the property tax measures for farmers received extremely good support from both chambers, the bill carrying the major reform, including a freeze on the assessed value for one year, nearly died in the waning minutes of the legislature.

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An issue relating to how big box department stores are taxed, attached to the same bill, nearly torpedoed the entire bill.

Hall was there in the trenches, and while she won't take credit for getting it back on track, just her presence reminded legislators that farmers had a stake in that legislation, and expected action. In the end, the big box store issue was resolved to the point where legislators would at least pass the bill.

Related: What the future holds for Indiana farm land property taxes

It's the behind-the-scenes stuff you and I never see that should make us grateful to people like Hall. As former Farm Bureau lobbyist, Wayne Dillman, once said that when members of Farm Bureau asked him "what did you do for me this year?" he often told them it's not what they did, but what didn't happen because Farm Bureau intervened behind the scenes, that they should be thankful for.

If you happen to see Katrina Hall or have a chance to drop her a note, let her know you're glad someone is fighting for tax relief on your behalf. Yes, it's her job. But there are people who fill in their time, and people who go after results with passion. Hall falls into the latter category. As a result, your tax bill won't be as top heavy as it could have been over the coming months.

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