[r31] It's time to put our words into action (2/7/2011)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Start Date: 2/7/2011 All Day
End Date: 2/7/2011
Imagine having several hundred papers sitting on your desk, and it is your job to sort through each one and place it in an appropriate pile based on subject. It's a pretty overwhelming thought.

This is similar to what happens when bills are filed, assigned to committee and then handed to members to review before casting any kind of vote. We filed more than 600 bills this session, and even though only half will ever see the governor's desk, it's our responsibility to read and discuss each bill filed.

I had the opportunity to present one of my own bills, House Bill 1121, this week. The bill deals with the disposal of unused medication to make sure the public has a place to properly dispose of their unused medication. I filed this to help prevent prescription abuse and misuse.

The bill was passed out of the House Public Health Committee with a unanimous vote and will soon be scheduled for a hearing on the House floor. 

While House Bill 1121 passed smoothly through committee, other bills that were heard on the House floor for a final vote didn't have the same luck. House Bill 1129, for example, deciding whether or not to ban texting while driving for all ages, received a lot of attention on the floor.

The legislature addressed the issue two years ago, placing a ban on drivers 18 and younger. However, through constituent feedback, we felt that we needed to address the issue again and include all ages.

House Bill 1129 would make sending or reading a text message or e-mail while driving a motor vehicle a Class C infraction. The bill passed out of the House and will soon be heard in the Senate.

I voted in favor of this bill, not just because it's common sense, but also because of a comment made by my own son.

On our way from the Statehouse on Organization Day, I followed a driver who was driving erratically. I was able to get close enough to see that they were texting. My son, who was with me, took notice as well.

"That texting is dangerous!" were his exact words. As the saying goes, 'from the mouths of babes'.

Another heavily debated piece of legislation that passed through the House was the statewide smoking ban, House Bill 1018.

This bill would place a smoking ban on certain public places, enclosed areas of employment, in certain state vehicles and within 12 feet of a public entrance to a public place or an enclosed area.

However, certain bars, casinos and other 21-and-up businesses would be exempt from this ban, giving communities the option to still allow smoking in select taverns or veteran's halls.

Because so much debate took place this week, House Bill 1018 did not receive a final vote.

I plan to support this legislation because I believe in an employee's right to work in a smoke-free environment, along with allowing a privately-owned, adult-oriented business to choose whether or not they allow smoking.

As I've said before, it is our duty as legislators to carry the voice of constituents-within our own community and statewide. Don't forget that you can follow the status of any piece of legislation at www.in.gov/legislative.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns as we move throughout this session.