Democrat Brian Joseph Smith, 27, Leesburg, is seeking the District 22 State Representative seat this year by campaigning on millennial issues he says the GOP has ignored.
The seat currently is held by Republican Curt Nisly.
“My reasons (for running) are two-fold,” he said in an interview Tuesday morning. “First, millennial issues, I believe, have long been neglected by the Indiana GOP supermajority. I’m a middle-class Hoosier with student loan debt. I graduated from Valparaiso University. Unfortunately, our GOP supermajority, instead of helping struggling student loan borrowers, such as myself, they have actually capped the amount of interest that a person can deduct on their state income (taxes) to just five years.”
Smith said other states and the federal government don’t have a cap.
Indiana also is facing a “massive” brain drain, he said, and he believes that the state could use tax policy as an incentive to keep kids in Indiana as well as recent graduates from other states.
“Secondly, our current representative, I was very disappointed in the last session that he did not support a bipartisan bill, House Bill 1605, (which) would have provided a tax credit to firms impacted by the federal Medical Device Tax,” he said. “What it would have done would have been an offset to the 2.3 percent tax that orthopedic firms such as Zimmer Biomet and DePuy have to pay to the federal government. That would have been used as a tax credit equal on the state corporate taxes.”
Unfortunately, Smith said Nisly “for reasons he did not explain” did not support this “common sense bipartisan bill” that would have had a “great impact on Warsaw.”
In the last federal budget deal, Smith said the Medical Device Tax was “put on hold” for two years, but will return in 2018.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Nisly will not stand up for the medical device industry in Warsaw. I will,” Smith stated.
The Medical Device Tax helps fund the Affordable Care Act.
“I believe the Affordable Care Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation that was passed during my lifetime. However, I just believe that the Medical Device Tax is unnecessary and it’s proven itself unnecessary because by many objective measures the cost of the law has come in billions below expectations, and I believe we can begin to relax the tax revenues related to the Medical Device Tax,” Smith said.
However, he said, anything that Indiana can do on the state level to help Hoosier manufacturers, “we should do, and unfortunately our current representative isn’t.”
Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. One of the reasons Smith chose to make the announcement he was running for the District 22 seat at the county courthouse was because a business across the street has a sign on its door that it serves everyone.
“In 2016, it’s sad that that sign is even necessary,” Smith said. “I am glad that particular establishment chooses to serve anyone who walks in their door without question. But unfortunately – because of the failed policies, mainly (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), of my opponent” that sign is necessary.
Smith said he was “absolutely” against RFRA.
“I’m one of the 54 percent of Hoosiers in opinion polls that believe this law was unnecessary and were quite confused as to why the governor would put this on his agenda,” Smith stated.
Another issue he brought up in the interview was agriculture related.
He said Light Rail Cafe in Winona Lake is “very much concerned” about House Bill 1267. The bill would forbid small, agricultural farms, such as the Hawkins farm in North Manchester, from selling poultry to restaurants directly without having to go through a distributor. HB 1267 from the GOP would make that portion of the Hawkins’ business “illegal,” Smith contended.
He said there’s not been a single case of anyone ever getting sick from a farm selling directly to a restaurant.
“Is this how the GOP supermajority treats small business owners and entrepreneurs?” Smith asked.
If elected, Smith said he would work across the aisle on bills where Nisly has not. “I will build bridges with Republicans who are willing to work across the aisle,” he said.
He said he is “seeking the center” and wants to stay away from “these divisive social issues. In addition to just being discriminatory, they’ve also been very harmful economically” to Indiana.
Smith elaborated that Moody’s put Indiana on notice for a possible credit downgrade because of the firestorm over RFRA that “was a negative credit development and those are their words,” he said.
Other states have expanded civil rights in regard to sexual orientation and gender identity and he stated he believes Indiana should follow suit.
(Story By The Times Union)