With the Kentucky Derby just one week away, as you know, a lot can happen before the horses cross the finish line. Like any race, the Kentucky Derby is very comparable to the legislative session, and we are officially in the homestretch.
Much like horses and their riders who train year-round, lawmakers spend the entire year working and preparing for session and nothing is final until the end of the race, which is April 29 for the General Assembly. I am confident that many bills still making their way through the legislative process will have a positive impact in our community and state.
In the final sprint before we cross the finish line, legislators are putting on the finishing touches and working together to pass our state’s most important bills, mainly the state’s biennial budget, House Bill (HB) 1001. The budget ensures that Indiana can operate for the next two fiscal years and includes funding for local schools, corrections programs, various services and capital projects to list a few.
As our state’s fiscal leaders work to come up with a final version of the budget, it is important that it remains honestly balanced and does not increase taxes on hardworking Hoosiers. Equally important, the budget must fund strategic priorities, such as education and public safety, while maintaining healthy reserves and a strong structural surplus. This is important to ensuring that Indiana keeps its triple AAA credit rating, which is highly sought after and something we have worked hard to protect.
Although the budget is a priority and still being discussed, several bills I have co-authored have already passed out of both the House and the Senate. For example, HB 1004, which creates the Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) Grant Program, works to combat the issue of infant mortality. This will allow groups to apply for grants incorporating their creative and innovative plans to reduce infant mortality, which continues to be a major problem impacting our state.
Also working towards this goal, I coauthored HB 1016 which deals with newborn safety incubators. The bill requires the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning new methods or mechanism for carrying out policies relating to abandoned children, such as safety incubators. The report must be submitted by January 1, 2016. The House Republicans made public safety a top priority this session, and I was proud to work towards protecting Indiana’s most vulnerable.
With the final day of the 2015 session approaching quickly, there are still many bills that need to be discussed before we cross the finish line. I will continue to make decisions to improve the lives of Hoosiers in our community.