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[r29] Column: Session starting soon, civic engagement instrumental
Start Date: 12/11/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 12/12/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Session starting soon, civic engagement instrumental

As I wrote about in my last column, today is the state’s birthday, commonly known as Statehood Day. Our state is 197 years old and was the 19th state to join the Union in 1816. Local resident Andrew Knight, a fourth grade student at Our Lady of Grace School, is leading today’s festivities as he reads his Bicentennial Hoosier Heroes essay on Levi Coffin at the Statehouse. I highly encourage anyone who is in downtown Indianapolis to swing by and see what’s going on.

It has been a whirlwind year for me in all facets. On top of getting married this summer, I have been busy preparing for the upcoming session by attending legislative breakfasts, participating in interim study committees and meeting with constituents. I have gotten a lot of feedback on the issues that matter most to our community, and I will bring those thoughts, ideas and concerns with me this session. The 2014 session starts on January 6, and despite being a “short session”, will be action-packed.

Indiana continues to lead the Midwest in private sector employment gains and economic development. We saw the largest drop in unemployment over a three month period (July to October) since 1993, bringing the rate to 7.5 percent. Indiana’s highly ranked business and tax climate is paying dividends, and I want to keep the momentum going.

My top priority this session is the economy and continuing to see jobs added in our state, specifically our community. Today’s Noblesville looks nothing like it did 20 or even 10 years ago. The population has doubled since 2000. People are attracted to the employment opportunities and lifestyle offered in central Indiana, and I want see that trend continue and our community flourish. 

With the growth of Hamilton County, everyone is aware of the constant state of construction that we endure. We are the Crossroads of America, and we need to keep up with the demands of commerce, tourism and day-to-day travel. The new U.S. 31 Hamilton County project is one of the most aggressive, in terms of size and expense, the county has ever tackled. It will improve safety and congestion for a lot of commuters.

Education policies will be discussed this session as well as we strive to maintain a level of excellence for all Hoosiers students. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn in a safe environment that prepares them for the future, and Indiana has backed up that ideology by allocating over half of the state’s biennial budget to K-12 and higher education. Academic gains have been steadily increasing the last couple of years, which is a strong sign for our state and each student’s future. Every step we take needs to be focused on the students and preparing them to be successful upon graduation.

There will be many issues discussed this session that will impact all of us in different ways. Being involved in the process is vitally important, and I encourage everyone to engage. Each day of session is streamed live at www.in.gov/legislative for those who are interested in watching the legislative proceedings. As Christmas gets closer, so does the start of 2014 and session. Please continue to provide me feedback, so I can best represent you and our community.  

Lastly, the Noblesville Fire Department is in the final days of collecting donations for this year’s Christmas Food and Toy Drive, and the community has once again gone above and beyond in showing its generosity by helping those who are less fortunate. The fire department will be accepting canned goods, non-perishable food items, and/or monetary donations with which perishable food will be purchased (checks are preferred—made payable to the Noblesville Fire Department Legacy Fund), until tomorrow.

Efforts from the Noblesville Fire Department and other organizations this year really make the holiday season special. Thank you for being such an integral part of the community and working to make a difference.

-30-

My column also appears in the Times in Noblesville.
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