[r54] The Saunders Standard: Fighting for a cause (4/4/2011)

Monday, April 4, 2011

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

We started things off this week with a food fight, literally. The House Republican caucus sponsored a "Food Fight for Breast Cancer," which was held on Monday. Although the month of October is traditionally Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we had a special reason for the bake sale.

A staffer, someone who my wife and I have been very close with for many, many years, announced earlier this year that she had breast cancer. As a thank you for everything she does for us, we hosted a bake sale to show our gratitude and help cover some of her medical expenses.

Even though I am sure most people might think that we legislators would take the first possible opportunity, we didn't actually throw food at one another. Instead, we helped in the fight against cancer by raising more than $4,000, that was, until some of our members got clever in their money-raising abilities.

Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus) received more than $5,000 in donations to have the governor shave his infamous beard on the House floor-which he did straight razor and all.  Then, some of the members talked Rep. Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette) into letting them throw a cake in his face if they raised at least $200-which they did and he got it, everywhere!

So saying session got off to an interesting start this week is a bit of an understatement. But we were all glad to help out and have fun in the process. Especially since last week, tensions were high in the chamber.

First we passed the state budget, which included a fair and balanced budget proposal. Does it include everything I wish it did? No, but it spends what we have, it spends it wisely and it doesn't spend anything over.

In order for Indiana to continue to lead the way out of this recession and continue creating jobs, we have to live within our means. If we want to spend a dollar, we need to cut a dollar. I supported the budget, in its current form, as it passed through the House and now heads to the Senate for further debate.

Next on the calendar was legislation concerning school scholarships and abortions-two very different issues, but both issues that bring a lot of passionate discussions and heated debates.

Finally, on a happier note, we passed legislation to provide more transparency among state and local governments, schools corporations and state universities. I think we all agree that taxpayers deserve to know where their dollars are being spent. The legislation would provide a user-friendly website for anyone to use if interested.

In addition, we passed legislation that I authored to address the issue surrounding nepotism. The bill would require an employee of a county, city, town or township to resign if the employee assumes an elected position within that unit, or becomes an elected member of the unit's legislative or fiscal body.

The bill would also prohibit a relative of an executive, a member of the legislative body or a member of the fiscal body from being employed by the unit. It also prohibits relatives who are already employees from being placed in a direct supervisory-subordinate relationship.

There are, however, exceptions included in this legislation. It would allow a person who has been employed in the same position with the unit for at least 12 consecutive months to remain employed by the unit and be in a direct subordinate supervisory relationship with the relative.

The bill passed out of the House and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate sometime this week.

I am sure things will keep getting more and more interesting. I am sure we will continue debating the issues, but Monday-we took some time to fight a different battle.

If you are interested in helping fight against breast cancer, I urge you to consider helping or participating with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Saturday, April 16. You can find more information at http://www.komenindy.org/.

Please stay in the discussion and be included in the debate. Contact me if you have any questions or concerns at my office at 1-800-382-9841 or H54@in.gov.