It has been almost two weeks since we adjourned the 2010 legislative session and what an end it was. We worked until 1 a.m. on Saturday to come together on a compromise regarding the two most debated issues: allowing flexible education funding and delaying the unemployment tax increase. Fortunately, we reached an agreement and passed both pieces before the Sunday deadline.
However, it wasn't as easy as it seems-nothing in state government ever is.
Every time we thought we were getting somewhere the speaker would announce another two hour recess. My colleagues and I would use this time to meet and discuss the bills, especially those that had drastic changes added.
In the end, the conferees came to an agreement and it wasn't too much longer before both pieces of legislation were voted on in the House and Senate.
Senate Enrolled Act 23 passed by an 85-12 vote in the House to delay the unemployment insurance tax increase for one year. Now is not the time to bombard businesses with unnecessary taxes that will only result in the loss of jobs.
In addition, House Enrolled Act 1367 passed unanimously out of the House to allow Indiana schools to re-allocate money between various funds to make up for lost revenue.
Some of the points I wanted to see in each bill didn't make the cut; but, when you compromise you don't always get a perfect bill.
With session wrapped up and summer just around the corner, we still have some other important business to take care of. Most of you might have already received your 2010 Census form in the mail. If you haven't already done so, I strongly urge you to fill out the form and mail it back.
By taking part, you are serving your community. When you turn in a complete census form, you are helping your community plan for public transportation projects, assess the potential spread of communicable diseases, determine the need for new hospitals, create maps to speed emergency services to households and create radius reports for business site locations, to name a few.
In addition, you are assisting the state government in how to draw the federal state and local legislative districts, which will reapportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and drawing school district boundaries in 2011
So if you think your school is overcrowded or your local hospital needs a facelift- this is the time to speak up and let the government know.
Most importantly, you are helping the federal government know where it can distribute more than $300 million in federal funds. Whatever money is paid out by the government for the safety and well-being of a community-infrastructure, road projects, police and fire protection-is divvied up based on census numbers.
In 2000, the Hancock County area had about an 82 percent participation rate in the census. We did do better than the state average of 76 percent and the national average of 72 percent, but let's see if we can do even better this year.
Encourage your relatives, friends and neighbors to return their census form. Spread the word through churches, civic groups and other organizations. Explain the importance of a complete count.
Some people may be afraid to participate. Reassure them that the census is just a count. Participation won't lead to investigation. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share individual information with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement.
Keep in mind that if you don't fill out the census form and return it quickly, a census worker may come to your door to ask you a few questions.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the census or any other subject matter, please don't hesitate to contact my office. I would be happy to help in any way I can. You can reach me by phone at 1-800-382-9841 or by email at H53@in.gov.