If you think the only two things the legislature intended to do this spring were pass a budget and decide whether or not to pass the property tax reform language as proposed last year, setting up a referendum on a constitutional amendment to include property tax caps in the state constitution, then you haven't been paying attention.
Indeed, getting a workable budget passed is still number one. And while the Republican-dominated Senate passed the property tax reform language exactly as passed last year, the House has yet to take it up. House Democrat leader Pat Bauer still insists he won't allow a vote on it in the Indiana House this session. That still wouldn't kill the chance for the legislation to eventually reach the Indiana ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment.. Next year's legislature would still have a chance to pass the same language, and force a referendum on whether this provision of the property tax bill should be part of the constitution.
But there are many other bills out there affecting agriculture in one form or another. "There were a record number of bills related to agriculture introduced this year," says Tony Hahn, chief of staff for the Indiana State Department. of Agriculture. He made the comments while appearing at an Agriculture Day celebration in Johnson County recently.
Hahn's background includes studying marketing, and boning up on the current situation regarding ethanol projects. His new boss is Anne Hazlett, recently named the new Director of ISDA by Governor Daniels. She took over the reins in early January. She replaced interim director Klemme, who filled in for Andy Miller. Miller was appointed to head a special task force on flood relief by the Governor last summer. Then he was reassigned to another position within the administration late in '08.
Since Hazlett has come on the scene, she has already put the wheels in motion fro developing a new strategic plan for ISDA. "Our department is only four years old," Hahn says. It was created by the legislature during the first Daniels Administration in 2005.
"Many things have changed in Indiana agriculture since then," he adds. "We hope to finish the strategic plan this spring. We've asked key stakeholders for input as we set out to see what we've done well, and perhaps what we need to do different in today's environment."
One meeting closed to the media was held recently to gather ideas from various representatives of agriculture. All of that information and much more will be fed into a decision-making process which will eventually determine what the new strategic plan for ISDA looks like.
Look for it to be released within the next six weeks to two months.