INDIANAPOLIS—Committee hearings now dominate session. Lawmakers are working through long agendas reviewing legislation, receiving testimony and fine-tuning proposals to gain approval so the initiatives can advance to their respective chamber for further consideration by the full body. This brief summary highlights some of the bills being heard in the Senate and other activities thus far.
State of the State Address
Legislators recently met in a joint session of the House and Senate to hear Governor Pence’s first State of the State Address. Pence continued his push for a 10 percent cut in Indiana’s personal income tax, which would reduce the income tax rate from 3.6% to 3.06%. This proposal has met some resistance amongst lawmakers who expressed concerns about the economy’s continuing instability and a need to restore previous funding cuts to education. In addition, the governor promoted budget increases for education, transportation, Medicaid and higher education. The governor also called for increased aid to veterans, early childhood education opportunities, job training through vocational education, and increased transparency and accountability in the area of economic development. Criticism revolved around the governor’s lack of proposals to accomplish the goals set out in his speech. Reactions from Senate Democrats and the complete text of the speech can be found at www.INSenDems.wordpress.com.
Legislation that would allow for the expansion of Indiana’s gaming industry gained unanimous approval of the Senate Committee on Public Policy after several hours of testimony. Senate Bill (SB) 528 would permit the state’s 11 riverboat casinos to move inland onto existing property and become land-based casinos. Among other provisions, the bill would authorize table games at the state’s two horse racing facilities. These changes could help to create hundreds of new jobs within the industry. The legislation was prompted by an increase in competition from new casinos in surrounding states. The measure is likely to go through numerous changes as it moves through the process. Due to its fiscal impact, SB 528 now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for its consideration.
Legislation that is a result of work accomplished last year by the Outdoor Stage Equipment Safety Committee gained the approval of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs. SB 258 would make permanent temporary statutes that authorize the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission to adopt rules to regulate outdoor event equipment used in connection with an outdoor performance. The measure would also change references to “outdoor stage equipment” to “outdoor event equipment.” In addition, the legislation would permit the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to adopt rules governing emergency action plans or emergency response plans for outdoor performances where outdoor event equipment is used. This legislation is part of the General Assembly’s continuing efforts to address problems surrounding the stage collapse at the State Fair in August, 2011 that killed seven people. SB 258 now advances to the full Senate for further consideration. Similar legislation, HB 1069, has already passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 93-1.
Members of the Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee heard SB 162, a bill aimed at providing more transparency and accountability from the Indiana Economic Development Council (IEDC). Established
under the previous state administration, the IEDC is responsible for the state’s job creation endeavors, which have been called into question numerous times over the past several years by legislators and the media. SB 162 gained committee approval and now moves to the full Senate for its review.
Child abuse reporting
Legislation pertaining to child abuse and neglect inquiries has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 105 provides that when confronted with a potential case of child abuse or neglect, any law enforcement employee, judiciary employee, medical doctor, employee of a medical doctor, or school official may contact a local office of the Department of Child Services to report and inquire about the suspected child abuse or neglect. The bill now advances to the full Senate.
February 21 Deadline for committee reports
February 26 Deadline for the Senate to consider Senate bills
March 4 Senate begins consideration of House bills
For information about bills being considered by the General Assembly, log on to www.in.gov/legislative. From this site, you can also watch the House and Senate in session as well as committee hearings.
Stay informed about bills and resolutions scheduled for action in both the House and Senate with BillWatch. This free online program, available at www.BillWatch.in.gov, allows you to track up to 10 bills and receive e-mail notifications only when action is taken on those bills.
Senate Democrats offer up-to-date information at www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov. Multimedia updates on the Senate’s daily activities are provided at The Briefing Room (www.INSenDems.wordpress.com) and Twitter at @INSenDems (www.twitter.com/INSenDems).
Visit the senator’s web site at www.in.gov/s34 and subscribe to receive periodic e-mails about action taken on major issues. Check out the senator’s Facebook profile at www.facebook.com/senatorjeanbreaux .
Personal contact with constituents has a direct impact on legislation considered and what ultimately becomes law. Use the contact information below to express your comments and concerns regarding pending legislation:
Mailing address: Statehouse, 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Telephone: Call direct: 317-232-9534 or call toll-free: 800-382-9467, ext. 2-9534
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE TO THE EDITOR: A photo of Sen. Jean Breaux can be downloaded at: