The 2012 legislative session is back in gear, and I am excited to be writing to you again. This is my last session after 18 years of serving as your State Representative. Despite this being my final year, I promise to continue keeping you informed about all the happenings over the next eight weeks.
Like every session, we will be discussing a lot of legislation, but only some issues receive front page attention. Just because an item isn’t in the headlines doesn’t mean it’s not important. Nonetheless, here are some top issues you may see in the headlines.
Right to Work (RTW) legislation has become one of the most widely discussed issues this session. House Bill (HB) 1001 states that Hoosiers will have the freedom to decide whether or not to financially support a union, regardless of their employer or profession. However, RTW isn’t the only topic being discussed.
We are also hearing bills relating to public health, transportation and relief for military familes.
A statewide smoking ban, HB 1149, has been widely discussed over the past few years, and we are readdressing it this session. The bill would prohibit smoking in many public buildings, but it does contain exceptions such as certain bars and clubs. Another bill is mass transit legislation which would allow for county or city councils to adopt an ordinance to provide funds for public transportation. Many counties have a large need for mass transit, but the funding can cause some concerns. HB 1073 will hopefully address those concerns.
Two other bills aimed at bettering Hoosiers and visitors alike include proposed expansion of the military family relief fund and harsher punishment for those involved in human trafficking. HB 1059 extends the eligibility and time period of funds provided to military personnel and their families. Senate Bill 4 imposes harsher punishment for unlawful human trafficking, which was needed as an extra protection before the Super Bowl comes to Indiana.
One more piece of legislation that you may have heard about is Indiana’s agreement with Amazon to begin collecting sales tax from online purchases starting in 2014. HB 1119 will be the first step in passing statewide sales tax fairness legislation.
As with all issues, there are always two sides that have differing opinions. Some bills cause controversy and require extensive debate, while others pass through easily. You may have read that we had a bumpy start to session because of heated topics, namely RTW.
After Gov. Daniels State of the State address last Tuesday, however, things started moving much smoother. We are all back to business, and I look forward to the next eight weeks of work.