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[r29] Column: Last week of session at the Statehouse
Start Date: 3/12/2014 All Day
End Date: 3/12/2014
Entry Description
Last week of session at the Statehouse

The end of the 2014 legislative session is only days away as many bills have already passed out of both chambers and are on their way to be signed into law by the governor. Not every bill has been sent to the governor, however. As has been the case last week and throughout this week, it is conference committee time at the Statehouse, which is when Republican and Democrat representatives and senators meet to work on and hash out a deal on legislation the House and Senate can’t agree upon. 
 
When amendments are made in the second chamber, the bill must return to the author for concurrence (acceptance of the amendments) or dissent (disagreement with the amendments). If the author does not agree with the changes, the bill is assigned to a conference committee. 
 
These committees consist of four legislators, two from the House and two from the Senate, representing both parties. These four legislators work to find an agreeable solution to the author’s original intent and the second chamber’s amendments to the bill. Once an agreement is reached in the committee, meaning all four members have signed off, the bill is presented to both chambers for a vote. If the bill is voted down, it can be sent back to the conference committee to be worked on further. If they both approve the amended bill, it goes to the governor where he can sign it into law or veto it.
 
The beauty of a part-time legislature is the statutory deadlines that require our business to be completed, at the latest, this Friday. This is one of the reasons why our state’s government operates so much more efficiently and effectively than the federal government. With this quickly approaching deadline, we must work to get to the finish line because all the bills that don’t make it out of conference committee will die when we adjourn for the last day of session. 
 
It is a process that works well and ensures that each bill is fully vetted by both chambers of the General Assembly. The best public policy is a result of months and sometimes years of work. The House’s work over the last five years to reform the state’s criminal code has been a major undertaking by Reps. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) and Jud McMillin (R-Brookville). The new laws bring greater proportionality and consistency to sentencing and keep the worst offenders imprisoned longer. A balance has been struck between punitive and rehabilitative justice as low-level offenders will be sent to community corrections versus spending significant time in jail.

Many issues are still being worked on like the business personal property tax, road funding and pre-school education. I greatly appreciate all the correspondence I have received throughout session. Civic engagement is such a critical and fundamental component of governance, and I always want to keep all channels of communication open.
 
As bills are sent to the governor, you can keep track of what is signed into law online at www.in.gov/gov/2014billwatch.htm. Stay involved until the end of session as a lot will be happening this week! 

-30-

Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: (317) 232-9831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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