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[r23] Friend Report: Halftime Report
Start Date: 3/4/2013Start Time: 1:00 PM
End Date: 3/4/2013End Time: 1:59 PM
Entry Description
Halftime Report

The State of Indiana has a “citizen legislature.”  What does that mean and why do we keep this type of system?  Our founding fathers created this type of government so that legislators, both House and Senate members, had to go home to communities, jobs, businesses and schools to live with their constituents.  The lawmakers would have to live with the results of their legislation, just like all the people they represent.  

I believe in the system and think that it keeps the elected representative “grounded.”  Going home to employees, employers, bankers, farmers or teachers is a barometer that keeps on producing measurements of how well or how poorly you have represented your district.  The message will be communicated very quickly and very often.  Some folks just don’t mince words.

We have reached “halftime” in the Legislature and just like football, the bills change sides.  House bills that have passed will be heard in the Senate, and Senate bills that have passed will be considered in the House.  During this time, the interaction between the House and Senate members becomes much more intense.  

There has to be cooperation between the House and Senate sponsors of bills to keep the process moving.  For instance, my bill on Alzheimer’s training for police will be heard in the Senate this week.  Senator Randy Head (R-Logansport) and I will work together to make a very cogent presentation and move this bill towards state law.

If some folks are keeping score, there were 613 House bills filed and 175 bills passed.  The Senate filed 619 bills and passed 169.  That means that 344 bills are still alive and can pass and affect your life.

The House budget, House Bill 1001, passed the House with the largest appropriation in state history for education.  It also includes changes that increase road and highway funding by $250 million per year.  Funds dedicated to the Motor Vehicle Highway Account, which should have been exclusively for building and maintaining infrastructure, were going towards other government functions.  The House’s budget removes these “off-the-top” expenses, a change I have been recommending for years.

Here are some other bills of interest that were passed by the House:

HB 1002 establishes the Indiana Career Council and provides a forum for greater collaboration between public and private stakeholders in vital industries like life sciences, military/veterans, higher education, workforce development and business. The governor will serve as the chairman to the council.

HB 1080 authorizes a 13th check for public employees (Public Employees Retirement Fund), teachers (Teachers Retirement Fund), excise police, gaming agents, control officers and conservation officers.  This bill benefits about 72,000 retired state employees.

HB 1256 toughens the penalties for those convicted of trafficking tobacco, cell phones or weapons to inmates. If convicted of trafficking a cell phone to an inmate, the convicted may be charged with a Class C felony and a $10,000 fine. This bill helps protect those inside and outside of the prison.

HB 1328 requires the Family and Social Services Agency to develop and implement a pilot project to establish a health care clinic located in a school to provide care to students and their families.

HB 1334 allows the Department of Administration to contract for the availability of personal liability insurance for both public and non-public school teachers.  It allows a teacher to be entitled to a $1,000 income tax deduction for classroom supplies purchased out-of-pocket.  It allows highly effective teachers to opt out of certain professional development requirements in order to renew their license.  It also allows a teacher to sign a document to have union dues deducted from their paycheck if none of the dues go to political purposes.

HB 1483 will require drug testing of people on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) before and during their receipt of public funds. If a recipient of TANF funds tests positive, they will not lose their benefits upon enrolling in a substance abuse program.

Finally, I was able to attend the Cass Logansport Economic Development annual meeting on February 28.  It was an enjoyable experience as the Cole Hardwood Company was honored for their vision and actions in the area.  The leadership presented their goals for the future of the area and encouraged everyone to have a positive attitude and be proud of the area’s standing in the statistics comparing us to the state and nation.  I want to encourage Logansport and Cass County to keep adopting the positive attitude.  It’s how we succeed.

It is your government.  Stay involved!

More later,

Bill Friend
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: ngoodwin@iga.in.gov
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