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[r23] Friend Report: Budget, guns and gaming
Start Date: 4/17/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 4/17/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Legislative Overview: Budget, guns and gaming

Some things I am noticing that give me concern for our society: (1) regardless of where I am, many people are looking down at their smart phone and texting something to someone, somewhere; (2) while driving, I still see motorists with their phone in hand or texting – even though it is now illegal to text and drive; and (3) during meetings – it doesn’t matter where – cell phones go off. They chirp, chatter, whistle, ring and even play an anthem, while the leader of the meeting glares at the owner of the phone, especially after the leader gave meeting instructions to silence all phones.

Like all of you, I have had a series of cell phones.  Every couple of years I “move up” to the next level of phone.  It is new and improved with features that are irresistible.  I now have a smart phone, and it really is amazing.  There is more computer power in our cell phones than was in the rocket that went to the moon.  It just makes me wonder how we got to this point in mankind’s development. 

We used to do well by interacting with others face-to-face.  Now it’s a text, tweet, Facebook message or email that is the interaction.  This long tirade of mine is not a criticism as much as a concerned observation about our society’s march towards being too reliant on technology.  I still believe in interpersonal communication.  It really does work.

By the time you read this, the General Assembly will be in conference committee mode.  A conference committee consists of four legislators, two Republican and two Democrat members each representing their caucus for their respective chamber. This committee must agree on a conference committee report which will be voted on by each chamber to pass and go to the governor.  The conference committee that will draw the most attention is, of course, the budget, House Bill 1001.  

Differences between the House and Senate budgets must be ironed out so the two chambers can have a final vote on the two-year spending plan.  The bumps in the road involve education, transportation and the governor’s proposed 10 percent income tax cut.  Unlike the federal government, it will get worked out and a budget produced.  There just needs to be some drama so the media can have subject matter to write about.

This past week, we spent hours discussing Senate Bill 1, which addresses the issue of having school resource officers in schools.  After all the testimony, legislators are still divided over this controversial issue.  The problems of rural schools probably are different from those of larger cities, so a one-size-fits-all solution is hard to sell.  The House sent the bill to a summer study rather than do a knee-jerk reaction to the horrific tragedy seen in Connecticut.

Another controversial bill is Senate Bill 91 that deals with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s request for assistance to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This bill would take money from the racinos and allow for negotiations between the horsemen and racinos. $5 million would be used by IMS and $5 million would be a loan program for other racetracks around the state.  This concept is raising lots of questions.

The racinos at Anderson and Shelbyville are asking for table games with live dealers to be added to their licenses.  Currently, they have computerized machines with large screens that simulate a live dealer.  The bill is presented as a 600 job employment bill.  Critics call it another expansion of gambling.  It seems to me that replacing a computer with a human might just be a good thing.  The process doesn’t change or expand, it just employs more Hoosiers.

Speaking of racing, we are now coming down the home stretch.  Stay in touch.  It is your government.

More later,

Bill Friend
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: ngoodwin@iga.in.gov
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