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[r29] Column: Study Committees Wrapping Up
Start Date: 10/16/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 10/16/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Study Committees Wrapping Up

I was at the Statehouse last week for two interim study committee meetings: the Census Data Advisory Committee and the Commission on Courts. Throughout the interim, study committees regularly meet to discuss many issues that there simply wasn’t enough time to fully evaluate and confer on during session. Some study committees are only temporarily established to address pressing issues, while others continue to look at matters, like education, each year after the legislative session has adjourned.  There seemed to be an abundance of topics this year that were referred to existing study committees. 
 
It’s a system that works well in Indiana. Our citizen legislature allows members to go back to their districts following session to get feedback on the laws that were passed and remain connected to their districts. The study committees can revisit certain topics if more work is needed to prepare for the following session. I serve on three committees. Of note, the Census Data Advisory Committee met to discuss ways to improve election administration by reducing lines at polling places, methods to reduce the cost of the election process and issues relating to redistricting conducted by local units of government. Elections can be very costly to counties. It’s important that we have an election process that is not only fair and transparent, but an efficient and effective use of public resources. 
 
One of my other committees, the Commission on Courts, which I have served on for 25 years, is made up of not only legislators but also judges, county commissioners, councilmen and clerks. During my first few years serving the commission, it wasn’t as a legislator, but actually when I was Hamilton County Clerk. This commission has had a wide variety of topics this year in addition to the requests for additional courts and magistrates. We have reviewed the bail bond system, the judgment docket in the clerk's office and whether there is a need to license court reporters. We look at all issues that affect those who may have court proceedings in the county.
 
Overall, these committees and commissions serve Indiana well as they provide more time for issues to be fully vetted leading up to session. Each side of the issue can work together to better understand the other’s position to reach a common solution. An overwhelming majority of bills are passed with bipartisan support in the General Assembly because of the work that goes in before session in study committees. A recommendation by the study committee holds a lot of weight when the bill is going through the legislative process.
 
All of the study committees will be submitting recommendations to the General Assembly in the coming weeks as they conclude their work and meet the November 1 reporting deadline. If there is a need, legislation will be drafted in response to their recommendations for the electorate to consider. 
 
The Indiana legislature officially meets at the beginning of January to mid-March this year. It’s a “short” session since the biennial budget was written last year. We are only in session for a short period of time, so by taking on issues in a preliminary way while out of session, we greatly improve the quality of what will be considered once session begins. 
 
Of the policies we have passed, Indiana continues to be recognized as a fiscal leader for the country. A national report from the Tax Foundation, an independent, non-partisan organization that provides research and analysis on federal and state tax policy, was released last week highlighting Indiana’s tax climate as the 10th best. This ranking is not the first time Indiana has been recognized for its business environment. Earlier this year, Indiana ranked 1st in the Midwest and 5th in the nation in Chief Executive magazine’s annual “Best & Worst States” survey. Indiana also ranked 1st in the Midwest and 2nd in the nation in Site Selection magazine’s annual Top 10 Competitive States of 2012 ranking.

Last session, we enacted the largest tax cut package in state history, estimated to save taxpayers $650 million a year once fully implemented. Indiana is setting the bar for economic development and job creation efforts as employers want to create jobs here due to our pro-business and taxpayer-friendly policies. I want to keep the momentum going into next year and beyond.
 
Session will be here before we know it, as will the holiday season. There are many activities surrounding the fall season, and I hope you make time to enjoy them with your family and friends.

-30-

My column also appears in the Times in Noblesville.
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: (317) 232-9831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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