[76] Accomplishments of 2013 (12/27/2013)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Start Date: 12/27/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 12/27/2013
The 2014 legislative session is right around the corner.  For the past few months, I have met with constituents and started to draft my bills for the upcoming session.  However, before the New Year and legislative actions that will ensue, it is always important to look back and reflect on the year and be thoughtful of the ways we can keep progressing and improving ourselves, our community and our state. 

Last session was a year of firsts for Indiana. Our state was ranked first in the Midwest and tops in the country by many business journals and publications for our tax-friendly, pro-business climate. Indiana has also been leading the charge for private sector employment gains. Consequentially, the unemployment rate has rapidly fallen over the last few months, and I want to keep that momentum going.

Part of the reason for the accolades was the tax cut package passed last session, the largest in state history. Hoosier income taxes are being reduced by 5 percent over four years, and the death tax was eliminated beginning the first of this year. Other financial investments were made in roads and infrastructure at the state and local level with additional funds - $215M per year – being allocated to help with construction and maintenance. All of this was completed, while also staying true to our conservative principles of having a balanced budget with healthy reserves and no tax increases. 

All of the policies put forth only lay the foundation for our state and its economic prosperity; it’s the people that make Indiana the best place to live, work and raise a family. Hoosiers are the hardest working, most down to earth, humble people, and I feel honored to represent you all in Indianapolis.

In addition to the many fiscal achievements that were enacted last session, three of the bills I authored were sent to the governor and became law: School Corporations Capital Projects Act, SWAT Team Readiness Act and Blue Alert Notification Act.

The first law allows schools corporations to use money in their respective capital projects funds to pay the costs of utilities and insurance through the 2015 calendar year. The state previously only allowed schools to transfer their capital project funds until the 2013 calendar year, so this two year extension was put into place to provide greater financial flexibility for school systems. 

SWAT team personnel now have the authority to act and use their training to save lives during emergency situations. Previous law did not give SWAT members legal authority to act in dire situations, instead they had to wait for EMTs to arrive on the scene. My legislation remedied that situation, enabling trained SWAT personnel to step in and help wounded victims.

Lastly, I worked to create the ‘Blue Alert’ notification system that will be run by the Indiana State Police Department. This new Blue Alert program is relatively similar in concept to the Amber and Silver Alerts. Blue Alerts will be used to inform the public when a law enforcement officer has been killed, seriously injured or becomes missing in the line of duty. It will also help notify a local community of a potentially dangerous situation. The alert will also provide peace of mind for the men and women who serve and to their families.

I’m grateful to serve in my capacity and spearhead the issues I mentioned. Good public policy stems from vocal communities. I encourage everyone to stay involved and connected to the happenings in our community, so we can make a positive impact for the entire state. Let’s keep the dialogue going – I can be reached via email at h76@in.gov or by phone at (317) 232-9671.