March Madness at the Indiana Statehouse

Posted by: Courtney Scott  | Friday, March 13, 2015

For many Hoosiers, the beginning of spring signifies much more than just warmer weather; it is a time filled with excitement and anticipation for sports fans who eagerly await March Madness. While the real action takes place on the basketball court, I like to think that we, as legislators, are also in the midst of our own form of “madness” at the Statehouse. With only six weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, things are really starting to heat up.

You see, filling out a bracket for the NCAA tournament is somewhat like the legislative process. It starts with many teams, but in the end only a select few make it to the finals. During the first half of this legislative session, 669 House bills were filed. However, of those, only 174 were passed through the House and continued over to the Senate.

Several significant pieces of legislation have already passed through the House, including legislation to promote public safety across Indiana cities and towns. By now, you might be familiar with the statistic of over 1,700 victims of domestic violence being denied shelter between June 2013 and July 2014 all because programs were over capacity.

Every community is impacted by domestic violence, so we knew it would take a dramatic effort to start to reverse its ill effects. That is why I voted for legislation that would double funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment programs for Hoosiers, increasing our previous investment of $2.5 million to $5 million. It is essential that not only are these resources available, but that they are also being managed in the most efficient and effective way possible to ensure the greatest relief.

Another piece of legislation, which I look forward to continued discussion on, is a bill I sponsored to reduce conflicts of interest in coroner cases. As we seek to strengthen and clarify ethics laws in the Legislature, we are attempting to do the same outside the Statehouse as well. Senate Bill (SB) 10 arose after a coroner in south central Indiana knowingly worked on a case involving his own nephew.

As a former coroner myself, I support this legislation as a way of increasing public trust in these local officials. Under SB 10, if a coroner believes that they have a conflict of interest, they would be required to enlist the services of a coroner in a neighboring county. That coroner would then be reimbursed for their services by the county in which the conflict of interest exists.

In addition to these bills, we are still actively working to perfect our state’s budget, which funds strategic priorities to propel Indiana forward. While we look to make historic investments in areas such as education, we must also hold firm to our unwavering and proven commitment to fiscal integrity. We are currently awaiting the final revenue forecast in mid-April which will help us to put the finishing touches on what I believe is a conservative approach to budgeting that will protect Hoosier taxpayers for generations to come.

Just like you review a team’s record and a variety of other factors when making selections in your NCAA bracket, we also take many things into consideration when deciding on legislation. One major piece of this is constituent feedback. To secure your spot in the game, please contact me by phone at 317-232-9833 or by email at h75@in.gov.

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