Judy: Navigating the General Assembly

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Friday, January 23, 2015

As a first time legislator, navigating the Indiana General Assembly and the legislative process is like taking your family on vacation for the first time.  It can be a challenging undertaking but you know the reward will be great. However, before you embark on your adventure, preparation and planning is a critical first step. The same is true for lawmakers heading into the legislative session. For families, that preparation might include everything from supplies to swim gear –if you are going to Florida– routing your trip or even the snacks along the way.

You must also take into consideration that regardless of how much you prepare, you must be ready for anything and to overcome any “detours” in order to reach your destination. While that might be sunny Florida for your family, my destination as your representative is to improve our community for Hoosiers.

With your guidance and support, I will work hard to represent you in Indianapolis and address some of the issues impacting northeast Indiana. Things are off to a great start. One area that I am particularly passionate about is addressing issues impacting our Hoosier veterans. I am pleased to announce that my first piece of legislation, House Bill (HB) 1159, passed out of committee unanimously this week and is now heading to the House floor for further debate and discussion.

HB 1159 would provide a voluntary preference for private companies that hire, promote or retain a veteran. There are 13 other states currently that have enacted similar laws, and my hope is that Indiana will be the 14th. As a veteran, I know firsthand the challenges that veterans face and how difficult it can be to enter the workforce. I have authored this bill in hopes that we can continue to decrease the unemployment rate for those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country.

Additionally this past week, I had the pleasure of attending Columbia City High School as well as Eagle Tech Academy for the day. Admittedly, it has been a couple of decades since I was last in high school and walking through those halls brought back some fond memories.

With 51 percent of the Indiana State budget directed towards K-12 education in fiscal year 2014-2015, I feel it is important for me to see education at the ground level. I would like to thank Superintendent Patricia O’Connor for this opportunity. I would also like to thank Principal Bradley Mullett and Principal Jennifer Reiff for their hospitality.

What I found most interesting was the way Eagle Tech operated under a problem solving teaching method. They incorporated technology, group projects, integrated class subjects and placed a lot responsibility on classroom peers.

A goal of mine, as your representative, is to spend the day at each high school, middle school and at least two elementary schools within each school district throughout House District 83 yearly. This will allow me to have a more informed decision when it comes to educational issues.

In my final note, I had the opportunity to attend the Columbia City/Homestead boys’ basketball game last Friday. What an atmosphere! Those were two great teams going head to head. It reminded me of the days of single class basketball, when our local communities would pack the gym for the Columbia City sectional. I would like to wish all the winter and spring sports teams the best of luck this year.

Moving forward this session, I encourage you to contact me by emailing h83@iga.in.gov or by calling (317) 234-2993.Your thoughts and opinions will help me guide my decision making as I work to improve our community this session.

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Rep. Judy (R-Fort Wayne) represents portions of Allen County. He is a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee.