[r51] Dodge's Column (8/28/2009)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Start Date: 8/28/2009 All Day
End Date: 8/28/2009

This month, I attended The Council of State Governments Midwestern Legislative Conference in Overland Park, Kansas. It was a four day conference. The Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC) consists of state legislators from eleven states: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The mission of the conference was to focus on issues that vastly impact our nation's heartland. It provides state legislators with exclusive resources and tools to better attack our public policy challenges. As a member, I am provided with access to information and research, opportunities for networking and exchanging innovative ideas and specified issue training.

Issues we covered were agriculture and natural resources, economic development, health and human services, education and energy. Other insightful discussions I participate in were:

·        State efforts to improve services for veterans and activated service members.

·        Strengthening the health care workforce.

·        Advancing health information technology under the federal stimulus package.

·        Improving health care quality and outcomes.

·        State efforts to promote math and science education.

·        The economic and fiscal future of the Midwestern states.

 

MLC is not a traditional legislator conference. It isn't simply legislator's talking about problems and how to fix them. Guest speakers consisted of former statesmen, policy experts, professors, entrepreneurs, etc.

Two of our guest speakers were explorers: an astronaut and a deep sea explorer. They had plenty to share of their adventures, but more importantly they spoke of implementing more hands-on learning. These were intelligent men who accomplished so much through hands on learning.

The MLC offered great insight about the federal stimulus package. It described what type of state government programs qualified for federal stimulus money and how to become more marketable when applying for stimulus money.

Most importantly, what I got from attending the annual conference was correctly identifying Midwestern problems with other states. We examined the Midwest's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. All of America's states are in the same fight right now, but Midwestern states have different problems, among them higher unemployment, lower tax revenue sources, etc. The Midwest, especially Indiana, has the tools and resources to attract new business and create jobs.

Government doesn't create jobs, but I am eager to come back to the Statehouse and work to make it easier for business to operate and grow so jobs will be created.

This was a wonderful opportunity for me and I look forward to using the knowledge I received from the conference to improving Hoosiers' quality of life.

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Visit us online at www.in.gov/legislative