[R53] March Madness at the Statehouse (3/25/2013)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Start Date: 3/25/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/25/2013 End Time: 11:59 PM

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about spring (or lack thereof). I’m referring to the time of year that carries with it much excitement and anticipation for sports fans across the country. I’m talking about March Madness. While the official action happens with college athletes on the basketball court, I like to think that we as legislators are also in the midst of our own form of “madness” at the Statehouse. With only five weeks left of the 2013 legislative session, things are really starting to heat up.

Filling out a bracket for the NCAA tournament is somewhat like the legislative process. It starts with many teams, but in the end only a select few make it to the finals. During the first half of this legislative session, 619 House bills were filed. Of those, 175 of them were passed through the House.

Several significant pieces of legislation have already passed through the House. I have talked before about House Bill 1002 and how it will create the Indiana Career Council (ICC) to bring together the key players involved in Indiana’s job training efforts. The ICC will work to unite Indiana’s fragmented system by sharing data and coordinating all elements of the state’s workforce development efforts. This will benefit more than 930,000 Hoosiers – nearly a third of Indiana’s entire workforce – who lack even the most basic skills to thrive in today’s economy. This council will work to “de-silo” information to best serve the state and create a shared workforce database working to create pathways to high-wage, high-demand jobs. 

Several pieces of legislation focused on Indiana veterans have passed both houses. Senate Bill 115 requires state educational institutions that have at least 200 veteran students enrolled to establish a “Combat to College Program” creating administrative and educational assistance for these students. There are currently 11,000 veteran and military students on our public university campuses. This program, specifically designed to help veterans seeking post-secondary education, will include a centralized location for admissions, registration, and financial administrative services; reasonable fitness accommodations for disabled veterans; and programs to provide academic guidance specifically to veteran students. I am proud to support this piece of legislation to assist those who have dedicated their lives to serving our county.

In addition to these bills, we are actively working on crafting a state budget that funds key priorities like education and infrastructure improvements while still holding firm to our unwavering and proven commitment to fiscal integrity. We are awaiting the final revenue forecast in mid-April to put the finishing touches on what I believe is a conservative approach to budgeting that will protect Hoosier taxpayers for generations to come.

Just like you review a team’s stats when selecting picks in your NCAA bracket, we take many things into consideration when deciding on legislation. I appreciate hearing your feedback on what is happening in our state legislature. Please contact me by phone at 317-232-9619 or by email at h53@in.gov.

I’d like to congratulate all our Indiana basketball teams who continue to make our state proud.