A session of legislative achievements

Friday, May 8, 2015

A session of legislative achievements

The 2015 legislative session is over, and I am proud of the strides we made to improve our community and state. Before session began, the House Republicans vowed to pass an honestly balanced budget, increase our investment to education, strengthen our ethics laws and address some of the public safety concerns impacting Indiana. I am proud that we were able to fulfill our promises, and I would like to take this opportunity to discuss some of what we achieved to make Indiana a better place to live, work and raise a family.

As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I spent a large portion of my time this session crafting the biennial budget. After months of discussion and debate, the General Assembly created a fiscal plan that maintains Indiana’s triple-A credit rating and provides adequate reserves in the event of a revenue shortfall. 

In addition to being honestly balanced, one of our top budgeting priorities was education. The 2016/2017 budget provides an additional $474 million in education funding over the biennium, the largest increase in state history. This funding reduces the gap in per student funding between the traditionally highest and lowest funded public schools. 

The budget also provides support for public safety initiatives including $13.5 million for Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns), a grant program designed to lower our state’s infant mortality rate. Additionally, $10 million was allotted over the biennium for domestic violence prevention and treatment.

Although we made these critical investments, our budget does not raise taxes on hardworking Hoosiers. As your representative, we must always be looking for ways to protect taxpayers, and along with the budget, I was proud we were also able to pass House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1019, the repeal of the common construction wage (CCW). By repealing CCW, Indiana taxpayers could stand to save between 10 to 20 percent on public works projects. 

CCW had been a part of Indiana Code since 1935 and is a government mandated wage for taxpayer funded projects. Repealing CCW ensures that taxpayers will receive the best value for their dollar while continuing to receive quality products.

While I was proud to support these bills, I personally authored legislation to address some of the issues impacting our community. For example, HEA 1053, which benefits small businesses, allows farm wineries, microbreweries and artisan distilleries to serve their beer, wine or liquor at the same service bar without requiring a partition. I was pleased to offer a solution that directly addresses a concern impacting our local businesses and will help our community grow.

Overall this session, it was an honor to serve our community and support legislation that benefits Indiana’s economy. Throughout the year, I encourage you to continue to reach out to my office by calling 317-232-9643 or emailing h82@iga.in.gov, so I can continue to address the issues most important to you and your family.  

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Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.