[r31] The Mahan Messenger: Making progress that matters (4/4/2011)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Start Date: 4/4/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/4/2011

The legislature got a change of pace this week-we were able to have debates and vote on legislation. Things we haven't been able to do for weeks due to the Democrat walkout. So a big thanks to the Democrats for coming back to work, I am sure most Hoosiers appreciate it too.

Session began at 5 p.m. on Monday, the agreed upon time that Minority Leader Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) said the House Democrats would return. We stayed in session until after 9 p.m. Monday, until midnight on Tuesday, and nearly 10 p.m. on Wednesday. We figured, since we had lost so much time during the walkout, we wanted to ensure we got right to work upon their arrival. And we did.

We passed some quintessential legislation this week. We started off with the state budget. Even though this was my first state budget, I know better than to assume 349 amendments filed is normal. House Democrats filed that many amendments hoping to change the budget we offered, and to spend more than $600 million in additional funding.

We can't spend money we don't have, plain and simple. We have to live within our means. We did, however, except 10 of the 34 amendments heard on the floor because they didn't call for any additional funding.

But the budget bill wasn't the only bill stirring up conversation. We also passed legislation dealing with abortion matters. The bill, as passed out of the House, changes the time frame of when a woman is no longer able to have an abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. In addition, it would require the physician to inform the patient orally and in writing before the abortion can be performed of the risks involved, information concerning the fetus, available assistance and existing law.

Legislation that didn't stir up conversation was a bill dealing with government transparency-it passed unanimously. It would require the state, school corporations, local governments and higher education institutions to have a universal, user-friendly website reporting all of their expenditures and fund balances.

Hoosier taxpayers deserve to know how and where their hard earned money is being spent at all levels of government.

As we continue working through legislation over the next few weeks, I will continue to keep you updated on issues that affect our state and our community. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office at 1-800-382-9841 or H31@in.gov.