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Indiana House Republicans
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Meet Matt BellIndiana House of Representatives: 2005-Present
House District 83: Allen, Noble, Whitley Counties
Telephone: 800-382-9841 (State House)
Occupation: Executive Director, LEAP of Noble County, Inc.,
Education:Homestead High School and the University of Tennessee
Representative Matt Bell was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in a caucus by precinct committeemen in 2005. He serves House District 83, which covers parts of Allen, Noble, and Whitley Counties. Matt is a fiscal conservative and an advocate for a smaller, more efficient state government and believes that burdensome taxes stifle innovation and progress.
During session, Rep. Bell serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Public Policy Committee, and is a member of the Family, Children, and Human Affairs Committee, and the Labor and Employment Committee.
During the 2008 legislative session, Matt authored HB 1162 which created a youth advisory council to report to the Indiana General Assembly on issues that impact young people across the state. The bill also allows the presiding officer of a city council to appoint a youth adviser so that young people can learn about and participate in local government. Many of the laws, rules and regulations enacted by community leaders affect the youth population. By passing this legislation our youngest citizens can become more involved and voice their input and opinions on many issues that will affect them and their peers.
In addition, Rep Bell co-authored HB 1118 which provided some of the most sweeping reform in regulations regarding the sale of alcohol in a generation. One of the main components of the bill is the definition of a grocery store. Communities throughout the state can now be assured that a grocery store is considered an establishment with no more than 25 percent of its sales being from alcoholic beverages. The bill also increases the minimum age for clerks who are allowed to sell alcohol to 19, preventing most high school students from selling alcohol. Clerks who sell alcohol are required to take the same training course that restaurant servers take.
This year Rep. Bell also coauthored HB 1290 which extends foster care benefits to young adults through age 21 to ease the transition to independence. Statistics demonstrate that 60 percent of adolescents who age out of foster care without a permanent residency plan in place find themselves homeless, imprisoned or dead within three years. Individuals who received foster care before the age of 18 will now be able to stay in foster care until they are 21 if they are working, attending a vocational program or enrolled in an education program.
This spring, Matt was named the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Champion for 2007. He achieved a 95 percent voting record, the highest percentage achieved by any elected official in the Indiana General Assembly, on issues of importance to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce during the 2008 session. His two year aggregate rating from the Chamber was also 95 percent which ranked second among all legislators during the 115th General Assembly.
When not serving in the General Assembly, Matt is the Executive Director of the Literacy Empowering and Advocating Project (LEAP) of Noble County. During his tenure, LEAP has grown from a small community based not-for-profit organization into an organization that serves more than 450 students each week with classes in Albion, Ligonier, and Kendallville. LEAP’s annual revenues have tripled over the past five years. Since 2004, LEAP has welcomed more than 330 donors to its family of supporters. LEAP has used that local support from businesses, industry, and individual community members to leverage more than $2.6 million in support of literacy programming in Noble County. Since July 2004, students have spent more than 200,000 hours in LEAP of Noble County, Inc. literacy programs and more than 80 percent have demonstrated academic growth. Rep. Bell believes that a positive future in this community must be rooted in providing Hoosiers of all ages with the knowledge and skills that they need to be successful in society.
Matt has previously served as an elected member of the St. Mary of the Assumption (Avilla) School Board and a member of the Parish Finance Committee. He also helped coordinate the religious education program at St. Mary’s for two years (2003-2004). In addition, he served as a 4-H leader in Swan Township for five years, is an active member of Rotary International, and the Masonic Lodge. He has also volunteered with Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and participates in several community initiatives including the Region III-A Economic Development Executive Board, the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana, and the Drug Free Noble County Community Board.
Matt is married to Jackie (Riecke) Bell of Noble County. They have two children, a son Mitchell and a daughter Adara.