[r54] The SAUNDERS STANDARD: Government under construction (4/14/2011)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Start Date: 4/14/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/14/2011

My background deals mostly with local government issues, as many of you know, and as your state representative I am able to also tackle state government issues-so I get the best of both worlds, which can be helpful when dealing with local and/or state matters that are addressed during session.

If members want to address local government reform, I am able to provide valuable insight to what may or may not work, or provide suggestions to make legislation better. I have served on the House Local Government Committee for 14 years, and have been proud of the efforts we have made in that committee thus far.

For example, House Bill 1004 was introduced to provide more government transparency, at all levels. It would require the state, school corporations, local governments and higher education institutions to have a universal, user-friendly website reporting all of their expenditures and fund balances. Therefore, anyone interested can see where tax dollars are being spent.

This legislation has been something I have been working toward for some time now because I believe Hoosier taxpayers deserve to know how and where their hard earned money is being spent at all levels of government.

House Bill 1004 is currently receiving committee hearings along with public testimony in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Another example is House Bill 1022, legislation I authored to prevent nepotism is local governments. The bill says that an employee of a county, city, town or township would have to resign from employment if the employee assumes an elected office within that unit or an elected member of that unit's fiscal body.

Basically, to ensure that employees aren't serving on a board that makes decisions of their salary, for example, or be in a situation of personal gain.

In addition, the bill prohibits a relative of an executive, member of the legislative body or member of the fiscal body of a county, city, town or township from being employed, nor would a relative be able to work in a direct supervisory-subordinate relationship.

There are, however, certain exceptions included in the legislation. For instance, a person who has been employed in the same position for at least 12 consecutive months can remain employed even if a relative is elected as their superior. Also, an employee would not be restricted to run for an elected position dealing with another unit of government-just the one he or she is currently working under.

Also, the bill would allow a person to remain employed by the unit and be in the relative's line of supervision, if the person is a police officer or a firefighter-both would have had to have been hired before June 30, 2011 and have the intent of becoming a merit employee of the department.

House Bill 1022 passed out of the Senate on Monday and was returned to the House with some slight changes. As soon as those changes are agreed upon, the legislation will be sent to the governor's office.

These are just two examples of legislation that deal with the interworking of government and ways we plan to improve how our local and state governments work-the more efficient, the better.