TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana’s November tax cap referendum, a new “take-your-gun-to-work law,” big federal deficits and the nation’s new health-care regulation all are areas of concern for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, a top Chamber official said Wednesday.
Speaking at Indiana State University to more than 30 local business and education leaders, Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber, said the pro-business organization believes the referendum on the November ballot to make Indiana’s tax caps part of the state Constitution will pass. However, he also said the Indiana Chamber opposes the referendum.
“Twenty-five, 50, 100 years from now, we’ll look back on this and realize what a mistake it was,” Brinegar said of the tax cap referendum. However, polls show about 75 percent of Hoosiers favor making the caps part of the Constitution, he said.
“It’s going to be the law of the land,” he said.
The Chamber opposes the tax cap referendum because it sets different property tax limits on different types of property, Brinegar said. Residential taxes will be capped at 1 percent. Residential rental property will be capped at 2 percent, and business taxes will be capped at 3 percent. With all the available deductions for homeowners’ property taxes, it is possible a $200,000 residence would have a lower annual property tax bill than a business worth only $100,000, he said.
The Indiana Chamber also opposed Indiana’s new law allowing employees to bring guns to work as long as they leave the weapons in their locked vehicles. Brinegar said the Chamber opposes the law because it infringes on an employer’s property rights and his ability to set rules for his workplace.
“It’s a thorny issue,” Brinegar said of the new law, adding he expects the law, which took effect July 1, to be challenged in court. Eventually, the Indiana Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court probably will decide whether an employee’s right to bear arms outweighs an employer’s property rights, he said.
Pushed forward by gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association, at least three states — Idaho, Montana and Utah — passed similar laws in 2009.
“I suspect we’ve not heard the last of this,” Brinegar said.
The growing national debt and the new U.S. health-care law are also areas of concern to Indiana’s business community, Brinegar said. The growing national debt inhibits new business investment, and the health-care law is filled with new regulations that have yet to be ironed out. In addition, the health-care requirements, while not projected to run a deficit in the first couple of years, eventually will have costs far exceeding revenues, he said.
Cap-and-trade legislation is another concern of the Indiana business community, Brinegar noted.
“This past few years, [the Indiana Chamber] spent a lot more time on defense” in the state Legislature than on offense, Brinegar said after his lunch-time talk at ISU. Nevertheless, Indiana remains one of the most business-friendly states in the nation and is generally ranked No. 1 in the Midwest, he said.
“Indiana is poised to come out of the recession” in better shape than many other states, Brinegar said. “The Indiana Chamber — because of legislation it has championed in the past — can “take some credit for that,” he said.
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or email@example.com.