Indiana Farm Bureau members came to the Statehouse on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers to stress their priorities for the new legislative session. The Legislative Kickoff Lunch drew a record large crowd of farmers and legislators. Lively discussions centered around several key issues. Dane Chatman, from White County, said the lawmakers at his table were receptive to what he had to say, “We talked about the state budget and roads and infrastructure, broadband to the last mile. The legislator really seemed to listen to what we had to say.”
IFB President Randy Kron said HB 1002 which deals with funding for infrastructure is one that Farm Bureau can get behind, “Roads are what we need to get our crops to market, so this is a vital issue for us. We are going to be watching the House bill closely as well as what the Senate does.”
The measure faces some opposition because it calls for an increase in the gas tax. Kron said this is one tax Farm Bureau would like to see increased, “It is more of a user-based funding plan, and Farm Bureau supports user-based funding plans.”
Broadband is another important issue for rural Indiana, but some lawmakers felt this is a federal issue. Kron disagrees, “We just need to get something done. Where I live we are only slightly more advanced than two tin cans and a string.” He related how we was unable to send his field maps to the company they use because the connection was too slow.
Keynote speakers at the lunch included LG-elect Suzanne Crouch, who promised to work with Farm Bureau on key legislative priorities. She also promised strong pushback against overreach by federal government regulations such as the WOTUS rule. Also appearing before the group was Tim Brown, chair of the House Ways and Means committee, and Senator Brent Hershman, chair of the Senate Tax committee. Both men stated their support for rural road funding.