STATEHOUSE – The 2013 legislative session has come to a close. State Representative Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) worked on a variety of bills benefiting Hoosiers, three of which have been signed into law by the governor.
“I was privileged to represent the people of West Central Indiana during this legislative session, and although our time at the Statehouse seemed to fly by, I believe the legislation that passed will significantly benefit the lives of all Hoosiers,” said Rep. Baird. “This session, there were many bills that were introduced, debated and voted on, and a few of the bills that I was involved with intended expand in-state college tuition opportunities for veterans, increase state contracts secured by veteran-owned small businesses and provides tax relief on Hoosier farmland.”
Sponsored by Rep. Baird, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 177 expands in-state college tuition opportunities for veterans. The bill allows honorably discharged veterans and active National Guard members to receive in-state tuition if they enroll in a state college within a year of moving to Indiana. Veterans wishing to apply must enroll in a state college no later than 12 months after they are discharged from the military. Additionally, they will have to establish state residency within their first year.
Currently, there is no law qualifying veterans to receive in-state tuition if they move out of state or are stationed overseas, and this bill will expand opportunities for them to access a more affordable college degree.
“This legislation is major victory for our veterans as it seeks to help them attain a college degree,” said Rep. Baird. “Pursuing higher education is an excellent self-improvement opportunity, and by passing a bill that helps veterans acquire more knowledge and earn a degree, Indiana is working to provide them with the tools they need to become more successful in today’s competitive job market.”
Another bill Sponsored by Rep. Baird is SEA 564. The bill seeks to increase state contracts secured by veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs). Working towards this goal, SEA 564 allows those businesses to receive a 15 percent price preference for those contract bids.
Furthermore, SEA 564 requires the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to simplify contract conditions and assist VOSBs in the bidding process. However, the products and/or services must meet the state’s contract requirements, and the VOSB must submit a request for proposal (RFP) and follow all other contract guidelines.
Additionally, SB 564 would allow VOSBs to obtain up to 3 percent of all state contracts. The bill requires the IEDC to submit a list of all VOSBs to the Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA). With that information, the IDOA, who maintains records of all state contract bids, is required to produce an annual report to the governor, Department of Veteran Affairs and the General Assembly to make adjustments or recommendations so that the 3 percent goal might be achieved.
Co-sponsored by Rep. Baird, SEA 319 provides tax relief on Hoosier farmland. Fast-tracked through the legislative process to the governor’s desk, this law uses current soil productivity factors for the March 2o11 assessment of agricultural land value to remain in place for property taxes payable in 2014. This prevents an approximate increase of $57M on Hoosier farmland.
“I noticed a remarkable bipartisan push this session to put our differences aside and join forces to support bills that positively impact the lives of veterans, farmers and Hoosier families,” said Rep. Baird. “There were many issues that were addressed this session, and I was humbled once more to represent my community in the General Assembly to make our great state even better.”
Visit www.in.gov/legislative for more information on SEA 177, 564 and 319.