Bartels: Making progress on session priorities

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Thursday, February 28, 2019 4:25 pm

The 2019 legislative session reached the midway point, and significant progress was made to pass an honestly balanced budget and address issues facing Hoosiers. Of the 201 House bills moving to the Senate for consideration, 75 percent were passed with bipartisan support. After being supported by House members, two bills I authored to help our community are moving forward.

I am working to pass legislation to increase the maximum operations fund levy for the North Spencer School Corporation, which is used for essential services like transportation and building upkeep. Over the last two years, school funding and taxation reforms combined all school corporation levies into a single operations levy. Adjusting to this new single operations levy requires considering previous levies to establish a first-year baseline.

I worked with the Department of Local Government Finance to address a unique incident that affected the North Spencer School Corporation’s baseline. A tax-increment financing district, or TIF district, expired in 2016. The result of this would have a $662,000 negative impact on the school district when setting the new baseline operations levy. If unaddressed, this would lead to an annual budget shortfall in the district’s capital projects fund. My legislation addresses this unique circumstance for North Spencer County, and would prevent the school corporation from experiencing a drastic reduction in operations funding.

Another bill I authored would require a technical review panel to oversee the implementation and approval process of new septic tank wastewater treatment devices. Recently, Indiana has seen an exceptional number of septic tank failures, typically affecting the elderly and low-income families. The panel would be responsible for determining whether or not new systems would work effectively in Indiana. The Indiana State Department of Health has granted the review panel authority to ensure effective residential and commercial technologies, and set new standards and rules. This legislation would not only improve our state’s waste disposal technology systems, but ensure the systems provide adequate services for those most in need.

At this point in session, Senate bills will now be considered in the House. I am looking forward to continue working with fellow legislators on the issues important to Hoosiers in a bipartisan manner. As always, your feedback and input is critical for me to best represent our area. As I consider Senate bills, please let me know your thoughts and questions by emailing h74@iga.in.gov or calling 317-232-9802. I encourage you to make your voice heard and help your government work for you.

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State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74, which

includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

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