Part-time Legislature, full-time integrity

Posted by: Kim Heffner  | Monday, February 16, 2015

Last fall, the House Republicans outlined our goal to increase accountability for all Hoosiers. Part of this goal includes strengthening our ethics laws. This is a bipartisan issue and it is imperative that we address it in order to safeguard the public trust and ensure that the best interests of Hoosiers are at the heart of everything we do. The public’s confidence is indispensable to faith in democracy.

Increasing transparency is not a new concept for us. I am grateful for the leadership of House Speaker Brian Bosma who has a proven track record of making government more transparent for Hoosiers. Under his leadership, we began streaming House Chamber session debates and committee hearings live over the Internet. During the video feed, Hoosiers can watch as we cast our votes for every bill, which ensures transparency. In addition, state and local governments, public schools and universities are required to post financial data on the state’s transparency website.

I encourage you to visit the Indiana Transparency Portal at www.in.gov/itp. This website is designed to give an inside look into our state’s spending, operations and to bring better visibility, openness and accountability to our government. The website includes information ranging from agency budgets to state contracts as well as agency performance measures to list a few. According to a report by the nonpartisan U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Indiana leads the nation in state government transparency. While this is a designation we can be proud of, our work to increase transparency and openness is ongoing.

Indiana has a part-time Legislature which means that many representatives have other jobs and live in their districts throughout most of the year. I believe this is an incredible asset to Indiana because each representative has personal knowledge and experience with the issues in his or her district. This is very different from full-time legislators who spend most of their time away from home and tend to be less connected to the issues impacting their communities.

With that, I am happy to report that House Bill (HB) 1002, our ethics agenda bill, passed unanimously out of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee and is now being considered by the whole House. As the chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, I was pleased to welcome Speaker Bosma to testify about the bill. HB 1002 strengthens the Indiana Code by increasing the amount of information representatives and senators must disclose with regard to our outside jobs. It also clarifies transparency requirements to help elected officials more easily discern some of gray areas that come with every part-time Legislature.

You can learn more about HB 1002 and other bills being considered by visiting www.indianahouserepublicans.com. There, you can watch session live, which I mentioned earlier, and learn more about the other bills on our legislative agenda.

It is a privilege to represent you, and I am committed to acting with integrity both at the Statehouse and in our community. I welcome your questions and comments on this and any other issues you may be concerned about. Please contact me at 317-232-9509 or at h31@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties. He serves as Chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. He also serves on the Family, Children and Human Affairs; and Insurance Committees.