STATEHOUSE – The 2013 legislative session has come to a close. State Representative Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute) has authored and sponsored a variety of bills while actively coordinating with officials at the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to replace the State Road 46 Bridge over the Eel River.
“These four months of session have flown by, but in that time, I am pleased with the strides we made to benefit our state and address Hoosier concerns,” said Rep. Heaton. “With help from my colleagues, some of the bills I worked on intend to create a safety-net against investment fraud, add much needed judicial officials to three counties and establish the Principal Leadership Institute.”
Authored by Rep. Heaton, House Bill (HB) 1179 creates a safety-net against investment fraud. Effective July 1, this law requires financial statements, submitted by a person wishing to work in securities, to be audited by an independent certified public accountant. Additionally, those managing securities, worth over one million dollars, must be audited as well.
This law places a Class C Felony for violating the agreement entered into with securities state officials. Penalties for violation could run as high as eight years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines and civil penalties.
The legislation was created to avoid the circumstances surrounding Tim Durham case. An area lawyer and financier he was found guilty last June of embezzlement, from more than 5,000 investors, of approximately $230 million. He has been sentenced to 50 years in prison, although the conviction is being appealed.
“Individuals handling the investment of others should do so responsibly while being held accountable for their actions,” said Rep. Heaton. “This idea is the foundation behind HB 1179 which implements a layer of protection to safeguard Hoosiers against fraud, and I was pleased to receive bipartisan support on this bill.”
Additionally to HB 1179, Rep. Heaton sponsored Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 486 which authorizes three counties to add judicial officials to their court system. This bill permits Superior Court judges in Hendricks County to appoint a third magistrate and in Hamilton County two magistrates. Additionally, the bill adds a second judge to the Owen Circuit Court and will be effective Jan. 1, 2015.
“Most counties have several judicial officials who share a demanding work load, but for over a decade, Owen County Circuit Court has been struggling with only one judge to take care of the increasing number of cases,” said Rep. Heaton. “In addressing this issue, I am pleased this bill adding a second judge in Owen County was signed into law.”
Another bill Rep. Heaton sponsored was Senate Bill (SB) 402. The bill established the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI), administered through Indiana State University's College of Education, which is an onsite, mentorship program intended to increase teacher and student performance by strengthening leadership and management skills of public school principals.
“This institute offers an excellent opportunity for our public school principals, wishing to attend post-secondary education, to develop themselves professionally as school leaders,” said Rep. Heaton. “I am always looking for new ways to provide advancement opportunities for Hoosiers in their profession, and this program provides that for these principals by offering them a chance to strengthen their communication, leadership and instructional skills.”
The PLI mentoring program occurs in two-year cycles in which public school principals would be eligible to participate. Moreover, ISU must evaluate and submit an annual accountability report to members of the General Assembly, assessing the effectiveness of the program. SB 402, if signed, is effective July 1, 2013.
While working on many pieces of legislation, Rep. Heaton also coordinated with INDOT to replace the State Road 46 Bridge over the Eel River. Rep. Heaton and INDOT are working to ensure that the motorists in Clay County receive a quality, safe and cost efficient new bridge.
According to INDOT, the project will be open for bids late 2015 or early 2016 with construction in 2016 and 2017. The new bridge will be open to traffic by early 2018. INDOT is considering various options to achieve cost effectiveness, accelerated construction and minimal impacts to the traveling public. Only designs that have those qualifications will be considered as viable options.
Furthermore, INDOT is developing environmental documents that are required for federal aid projects. Since the current bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, there are several requirements for the removal and relocation of the existing bridge. INDOT is working with other entities to find non-vehicular uses for the bridge.
Once the environmental documents and design plans are complete, INDOT will hold a public hearing on proposed design options, in the upcoming year.
“I consider it an honor to once more represent my district in the General Assembly, and I was pleased that we were able to move Indiana forward though a bipartisan partnership in having a direct, positive impact in our communities,” said Rep. Heaton.
Visit www.in.gov/legislative for more information about HB 1179, SB 402 and SEA 486.