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We have reached the halfway point of the 2014 Indiana legislative session, which hardly seems possible. We only have about five more weeks to complete our legislative goals, meaning that we will need to power through and continue focusing on issues of importance.
All the bills that passed out of the House are now being discussed in the Senate, and the next step is for Senate bills to start coming over to be heard in House committees. We are prepared to continue working with the Senate and state leaders to pass legislation that will enhance our state.
In his State of the State Address, Governor Pence said that he hopes to make Indiana the most pro-adoption state in the nation. As a staunch advocate for children and families, I was thrilled to hear our Governor say that. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 1999-2012 Hoosiers adopted about 6,400 children, of which the majority were 2 years old or younger. There are more than 100,000 children in the U.S. waiting to be adopted.
One piece of legislation aimed at helping to improve the adoption process in Indiana is House Bill (HB) 1222. As the Vice Chair of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, I was proud of our committee chair who authored HB 1222. This bill is designed to help alleviate some of the financial burden of those who want to adopt by providing an adjusted gross income state tax credit for individuals who also qualify for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. Our state tax credit would be equal to 10 percent of the federal adoption credit they claim on their federal income tax return, beginning in 2015. At least 13 other states offer adoption tax credits and another 10 offer some form of deduction.
The Federal Adoption Tax Credit was designed to defray some of the costs of adoption, such as adoption fees, attorney fees, court costs and more. Extending an additional state tax credit would go even further to help alleviate the financial burden of adoption. Besides the lengthy process, cost is the main reason many Hoosiers are unable to adopt.
Along with providing a tax credit, HB 1222 would also establish the Interim Committee on Adoption. This committee would research how other states have handled adoption issues and would make recommendations for improving adoption programs in Indiana. It would also review the relationships between state agencies and private, faith-based and community organizations to determine potential ways for Indiana to improve our adoption programs.
I fully support this legislation and look forward to following it through the Senate to the governor’s desk. As I have said many times, children are the future of our world. We should do all we can to ensure that they develop into adults who are prepared to tackle the challenges they are faced with and who have the drive and determination to keep our state and country on the path of excellence.
One of my favorite quotes on this topic comes from the National Adoption Center - “There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.” This legislation works to help these families, and I am proud to support it.
Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.