What have you done for me lately? It's a question Farm Bureau lobbyists who work with the legislature on a daily basis during sessions get more than any other. Wayne Dillman, a lobbyist whose career spans time with both Indiana Farmers Union and Indiana Farm Bureau, likes to answer: "It's what they didn't do to you that you should be thanking us for."
That was never truer than the $57 million in extra property taxes that didn't materialize a year ago, and won't materialize this year either, thanks largely in part to lobbying by Indiana Farm Bureau. The Department of Local Government Finance wanted to change soil productivity indexes, which would have raised your tax bill behind raises caused by the existing property tax formula for farmland assessment.
During this session, a bill was offered to delay implementation and force DLGF to study the issue with Purdue University experts, before implementing new rules. Passed unanimously, it was signed by Governor Pence before assessors could begin using the new rules. It was the first piece of legislation signed during his administration.
One of the people who orchestrated blocking that behind-the-back move by DLGF was Bob Kraft, long-time lobbyist for Indiana Farm Bureau. Working in this role since 1990, Kraft will retire at the end of September.
But that doesn't mean the fight to protect farmers from property tax hikes won't be just as intense. Katrina Hall, IFB's lead lobbyist on taxes, will become director of lobbying efforts. In fact, her appointment to that role began this week.
Hall has been with IFB for 13 years. President Don Villwock, Edwardsport, thanks Kraft for all he's done both in and outside the legislature. He also expresses confidence that Hall will provide the leadership needed to help implement Farm Bureau policies in Indiana.