As the 2012 session came to a close just before 2 a.m. Saturday morning, I thought to myself, what a fascinating two years it has been. First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude for having the privilege to serve as our community’s representative in Indianapolis. As a legislature, we have accomplished so much in this short amount of time, and I believe these changes will benefit Hoosiers in many ways.
You may recall Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 4 was the first piece of legislation signed into law this year to protect Hoosiers and visitors alike from human trafficking by imposing harsher criminal punishment on those involved in the practice. We passed this legislation quickly to ensure the law was in place before the Super Bowl came to Indianapolis – an event where these types of crimes are more prevalent.
The final bill discussed was partially devoted to providing additional compensation to the Indiana State Fair stage collapse victims and their families. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1376 also significantly increases funding for full-day kindergarten and reworked the Automatic Taxpayer Refund to give more Hoosiers a break on their 2013 tax returns.
A goal of session – as always – was benefitting our Hoosier families. Along those lines, we worked on legislation to bring more jobs and economic opportunity to Indiana.
HEA 1001 provides Hoosiers with the freedom to decide whether or not to financially support a union. During the over 40 hours of discussion on this legislation, economic development experts testified that a third to half of businesses looking to locate a new facility and create jobs do not consider non-Right to Work (RTW) states. In fact, as of Friday night, 31 companies are now considering a move to Indiana with RTW being one of the major factors in their possible move.
In addition to RTW legislation bringing new jobs to our state, we also passed SEA 293, which will gradually phase-out the Inheritance Tax to ensure that individual’s businesses and savings are not subject to an additional tax when they are passed on to their spouses and kin. Indiana is one of the last states to still impose this tax, so removing it is a step in the right direction in making us more competitive. This phase-out will greatly benefit the many family-owned farms and small businesses throughout our state which make up the backbone of our economy.
I was also fortunate enough to have a few of my own pieces of legislation pass through, specifically legislation addressing nepotism and conflict of interest in state and local government. Statute exists regarding nepotism and the state government level, but I authored HEA 1250 in order to strengthen this policy. Additionally, I authored HEA 1005 addressing nepotism and conflict of interest at the local government level – the first of its kind – to prevent government employees from hiring and overseeing relatives.
Taking this to the next step, HEA 1005 also prohibits local government employees from holding elected positions in a fiscal or governing body overseeing their local unit of government – town, city, county or township. These are all measures to promote transparency and ethical leadership in government bodies throughout the state.
My work doesn’t stop just because we adjourned sine die. Please keep in touch so that we can begin preparing for 2013.