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[r29] Column: Home stretch for the Legislature
Start Date: 4/10/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 4/10/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Home stretch for the Legislature

The Senate released their budget from the Appropriations Committee last week highlighting many of the same priorities that the House had put forth earlier this year to best position Indiana for the future. There are still some differences in how we fund education initiatives, infrastructure improvements and public health. However, I am confident that in the remaining weeks we will come to an agreement between the two chambers, and with the governor’s office, to keep Indiana fiscally sound, maintain prudent reserves, provide additional tax relief and properly fund critical public services.

There are two important deadlines approaching this week. All bills will have to be heard on second reading by Thursday, which is when bills are amended before the entire House once it is has passed out of committee. Third reading deadline is next Monday, April 15. Every bill in the House will have to be voted on, in its entirety, as a precursor for conference committees. Conference committees will make up the last week or more, where House and Senate members work on the differences between bills that were amended in the second chamber (i.e. a Senate bill is amended in the House and vice versa).

There are many issues still before the General Assembly that are being discussed and need further review and consideration. I look forward to approaching all of the issues remaining with civility, especially the more controversial topics. An honest and open discussion is needed for these topics to ensure Indiana is putting its best foot forward.

To provide an update on some of the major pieces of legislation in the General Assembly, the referendum on the expansion of mass transit in central Indiana was moved to a study committee. The Senate wanted some additional time to analyze the fiscal impact and financial stability of the project. The summer study committee will look into bus and bus rapid transit; ridership numbers for public transportation; ways to improve public transit; the feasibility of light rail routes; private-public partnerships; and other issues associated with bus and light rail infrastructure.

House Bill 1002, the Indiana Career Council (ICC), passed out of the Senate on Thursday of last week and will head to the governor’s office to be signed into law in the coming weeks. The ICC will bring together the key players involved in Indiana’s job training efforts and work to unite Indiana’s fragmented education, job skills development and career training system. The council will also share data and coordinate all elements of the state’s workforce development efforts with the Legislature and provide recommendations to bridge the skills gap facing unemployed Hoosiers. There are multiple agencies that address all of these issues, but greater collaboration is needed to break down the silos of state and local government.
 
Ensuring the schools Hoosiers send their children to are safe is always a top priority, and Senate Bill 1 works to address that concern by implementing school safety professionals. As the bill is currently drafted, each school would employ a school safety professional who would be armed and on the school’s grounds during regular operating hours. This bill is still working its way through the legislative process and, like many bills, may change.

Tragedies have been witnessed across the country, most recently the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. It is our hope to prevent such an event from taking place in Indiana and to do everything possible to be prepared for such a situation if it were to arise.

The overhaul of Indiana’s Criminal Code, House Bill 1006, which has not been significantly updated in over three decades, is continuing to be discussed. A patchwork of changes has been made over the years to the code, increasing the need for greater consistency and proportionality in sentencing. Years of work have gone into this bill, and many of the interested parties have agreed on the outcome.

The General Assembly will continue to discuss issues that matter most to you and your family. I greatly encourage feedback on any and all topics as we wrap up our legislative business by April 29.

-30-
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: ngoodwin@iga.in.gov
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    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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