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[r29] Column: Crunch time for the Legislature
Start Date: 4/16/2013Start Time: 2:00 PM
End Date: 4/16/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Crunch time for the Legislature

Ironing out the details of the state’s biennial budget from now until the end of session will be the top priority for the Legislature. The House, Senate and Governor’s office have all released their version of what the state’s budget should look like with many similarities seen in each financial blueprint. There have also been some key differences in how we fund education initiatives, infrastructure improvements and public health, but I am confident that in the remaining weeks we will come to an agreement that keeps Indiana fiscally sound, maintains prudent reserves, provides additional tax relief and properly funds critical public services.

All of the bill reading deadlines have passed, so the only bills still being discussed are ones that the House and Senate disagreed on through amendments enacted in the second chamber. Meaning, if a House bill was amended in the Senate and the House author disagrees with the changes made in the Senate, then the bill goes to a conference committee. Republican and Democrat members from both houses make up the conference committee where a compromise is either agreed upon or the bill dies.

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.

As a quick highlight to where some of the major pieces of legislation currently stand, 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. 

Legislation establishing the Indiana Career Council, which addresses Indiana’s skills gap and workforce development needs, has passed both chambers and will be signed into law by Governor Pence. This is a critical piece of legislation to lower Indiana’s unemployment rate by more closely matching employment opportunities with skills training programs for Hoosiers.

Lastly, 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. 

It is crunch time for the Legislature. I encourage everyone to stay involved and active in the process until we conclude session in the next few weeks.

-30-

My column also appears in the Current in Noblesville.
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: ngoodwin@iga.in.gov
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