The condition of Indiana roads were the main point of discussion at the annual house meeting for the Kosciusko County Farm Bureau.
State Sen. Ryan Mishler and State Rep. Curt Nisly shared with the full room what they had been working on in the state house. Mishler said that road funding had been the big item.
County Commissioner Ron Truex and County Councilman Bob Sanders also were on the panel.
Senate Bill 333 would implement Governor Mike Pence’s “21st Century Crossroads Plan” to provide $1 billion in new state road funding over the next four years. In 2016, the state will reserve 11-1/2 percent, about $458 million, for road funding. Then $50 million will be taken from the next generation trust fund and $240 million in bonding. These bonds are revenue neutral. This four-year plan will not raise taxes, Mishler said.
Senate Bill 67 would provide a one-time distribution of $430 million for counties in Indiana. Kosciusko County as a whole will get $2,678,924, with $1.3 million going to the county directly and $768,00 to the City of Warsaw. Both of these bills have passed the Senate and will move to the House of Representatives.
Nisly is running unopposed in the Republican May primary for his second term as representative. The first item he talked about Saturday concerned the Syracuse Industrial Park. He said that the park is technically in Elkhart County and that Syracuse police do not provide protection there. The House of Representatives is looking to allow Kosciusko County to annex the park.
The federal government said that if a farm sells less than 20,000 chickens per year, that farm does not have to be inspected. This includes farms that sell to high-end restaurants. Mishler said that the Senate disagrees with this policy, as food safety has to be stressed for all farms. Nisly disagreed and said that he does not think that the state should be involved in small farms as it could kill business.
In other items, Mishler and other senators are looking for an alternative to the ISTEP test.
An additional wheel tax to assist with road funds was discussed, with positive feedback from the crowd. The $1 tax on cigarettes was discussed, but the topic saw little progress.
Senator Randy Head will be running for attorney general for Indiana, Mishler reported.
“It is really good to hear what the people think is important … it’s easy to forget about the people back home so it’s good to hear what they are thinking,” Nisly said after the event.
“It (the roads) has been the biggest issue all year. … The Senate’s goal is to get through this year without any big tax increases,” Mishler said afterward. “I think there was great discussions on the roads.”
(Story By The Times Union)