Morrison: Freshman lawmaker's first session a major success

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Monday, April 29, 2013

STATEHOUSE – With the legislative session over, many bills have passed out of the General Assembly which the governor has signed into law. During his first legislative term, State Representative Alan Morrison (R-Terre Haute) has worked on a number of those bills that will positively impact the state.

“Serving West Central Indiana in the General Assembly has been a great honor this session,” said Rep. Morrison. “As I became more comfortable with the entire process and by working to positively impact those in my district, it was a privilege to work on legislation that aims to promote four-year graduation pace for college students, provide tax relief on Hoosier farmland, establish the State School Safety Board and create the Principal Leadership Institute.”

Co-authored by Rep. Morrison, House Bill (HB) 1348 incentivizes students to graduate in four years and rewards those with high scholastic standing. Through making various changes to the Frank O’Bannon Grant and 21st Century Scholars Program, this legislation encouraging students to maintain a four year graduation pace by basing financial assistance on classes completed rather than classes registered for. The assistance is extended into the summer months.

HB 1348 also provides that the Commission for Higher Education may offer an incentive based award centered on student performance and increases financial assistance for students that complete 15 credit hours or more per college semester.

Another bill Rep. Morrison worked on was Senate Bill (SB) 1. The bill establishes a State School Safety Board which would require safety experts to study and make recommendations to the General Assembly on what methods Indiana can take to better protect our students. Those discoveries would be submitted in a report and must be presented to state lawmakers by Dec. 1, 2013.

Another aspect of the bill establishes that the Indiana Secured School Fund, under the Department of Homeland Security, would provide a matching grant, up to $50,000 per school system, to use for the following: employ school resource officers, conduct threat assessments of school buildings or purchase safety equipment and technology.

Rep. Morrison offered an amendment to the bill which allowed school corporations with less than 1,000 students, to be eligible for a matching grant from the Indiana secured school fund. Moreover, smaller school systems are eligible to receive a grant of up to $35,000 while two smaller school corporations, that share a resource officer, can join to receive the $50,000 grant.

Before the amendment, school corporations with less than 1,000 students were ineligible to receive this grant.

“I was pleased with what Senate Bill 1 aimed to accomplish which was to improve school safety,” said Rep. Morrison. “The new version of this bill ensures that Indiana is taking the necessary steps, looking into what further safety measures can be taken, to provide our Hoosier school corporations, even the smaller ones, the tools they need to better safeguard those so precious to us, our students.”

Another bill Rep. Morrison co-sponsored was SB 402. The bill established the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI), administered through Indiana State University's College of Education, which is an onsite, mentorship program intended to increase teacher and student performance by strengthening leadership and management skills of public school principals.

The PLI mentoring program occurs in two-year cycles in which public school principals would be eligible to participate. Moreover, ISU must evaluate and submit an annual accountability report to members of the General Assembly, assessing the effectiveness of the program. SB 402, if signed, is effective July 1, 2013.

“As someone involved in Indiana’s education system, this institute provides an amazing opportunity to improve that system,” said Rep. Morrison. “I know many of our school principals have been waiting for an opening like this, and I was very pleased to provide them with a chance to grow and mature professionally which will trickle-down to benefit our Hoosier students.”

Co-sponsored by Rep. Morrison, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 319 provides tax relief on Hoosier farmland. Fast-tracked through the legislative process to the governor’s desk, this law uses current soil productivity factors for the March 2o11 assessment of agricultural land value to remain in place for property taxes payable in 2014. This prevents an approximate increase of $57M on Hoosier farmland.

“It has been a humbling experience representing my district and supporting legislation that addresses a broad array of concerns gripping Hoosiers,” said Rep. Morrison. “I am confident that legislation we passed this session will help West Central Indiana and our state move forward in a positive direction.”

Visit www.in.gov/legislative for more information about HB 1348, SB 1, 402 and SEA 319.

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