Veteran Indiana Farm Bureau legislative specialists Bob Kraft and Wayne Dillman both expect the Indiana General Assembly to adjourn on time at the end of this month, despite the five-week walk-out by House Democrats. Exactly what the budget bill and other key legislation, including reapportionment of Congressional voting districts, will look like is still open for discussion.
Both expect for the budget to be decided near the end of the session. Neither one at this point anticipate that a special session will be necessary. During the walk-out, noise was raised about the need for such a session if legislators didn't get back to work.
The Senate continued business, and the House also did some groundwork during the delay. The House members put in several very long days in an attempt to get back on track once some semblance of normalcy returned.
As far as agriculture, Kraft expects the industry will fare reasonably well coming out of this session. Some proposals that would have placed restrictions on farmers and landowners and were concerning to Farm Bureau lobbyists died in the midst of the walkout turmoil.
There is a fair possibility that Senator Guard's bill regarding prohibition of stacking of manure coming from out-of-state will pass in some form. Kraft says that would be in line with Indiana Farm Bureau policy, and should be a positive, not a negative.
The idea for the bill originated after some feared last fall that Ohio farmers would bring manure to Indiana from their concentrated livestock operations because of proposals to clamp down on manure application in Ohio. However, Ohio sources say the rule, even if it is enacted, won't go into effect for a year. And other sources say Indiana farmers also buy manure from Ohio chicken and hog farms, and bring it into Indiana to spread it.
All the legislation would do is require farms dealing with manure from confinement units to fall under regulation following the same rules as confinement units must follow for manure application, whether that farm has any animals or not.
Some consider it a non-issue. Others believe it's important to have legislation on the books making sure everyone understands how manure should be properly be handled.
A consultant based in Ohio says that not only Indiana counties were worried about this issue. A good portion of the manure goes into other bordering counties within Ohio. It's not like all the manure is being dumped in Indiana, he notes.