[r55] The end is near (4/19/2013)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Start Date: 4/19/2013 Start Time: 8:00 AM
End Date: 4/19/2013 End Time: 8:00 AM

The end is near

Time sure does fly when you’re having fun at the Statehouse. It is hard to believe I started my first session as a freshmen legislator only four months ago and it is already coming to a close. By the end of this month, session will be over and it will be time for me to head back full-time to House District 55. 

The last two weeks of our time here are spent mainly in conference committee, something 25 of us are experiencing for the first time. After a bill is passed in its original chamber, it goes to the second chamber. If the second chamber passes the bill with amendments and the original house does not agree with those changes, the bill is discussed in a conference committee. 

Conference committees consist of four legislators, two from the House and two from the Senate, representing both parties.  These four legislators study the bill in question and try to come to an agreement on what the bill should include, which is then voted on by both chambers. If they both approve the amended bill, it goes to the governor. If not, the bill won’t become law. The last two weeks of session are set aside entirely for these committee meetings in order to give the potential laws due diligence. 

So far, I have served on three conference committees as an advisor, meaning that I attend the meetings in order to help keep the discussion moving in a constructive fashion and give my opinion on how I think we should move forward. Senate Bills (SB) 202, 305 and 530 have been heard in my conference committees. I was appointed to these three bills because they went through the Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs, giving me some solid background knowledge on the subject matter. 

Even though session is almost over, that doesn’t mean my time here at the Statehouse is coming to an end. There will be a number of summer study committees going on after session in order to further delve into subject matter that was brought in discussion but not developed enough to turn into law. 

Each summer study committee operates in its own unique way, but follows the general format of the committee meetings we have during the legislative session. There are still committee reports to file, public hearings and sometimes a committee vote, but the process is lengthier. We have the time to spend doing in-depth research to ensure that any conclusions we reach are truly in the best interest of all Hoosiers. At the end of the study committee meetings, we compile a report outlining our findings and suggesting action for next session’s committees to take.

Ending session here in Indianapolis is bittersweet. Looking back at all the late nights, long discussions, heated debates and hard work makes me realize just how complex the process of lawmaking really is. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything though, and would like to thank you sincerely for allowing me to serve you as your state representative. I hope everything we accomplished at the Statehouse positively impacts your life and I’m already looking forward to the work to be done over the summer and in next year’s session.

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State Rep. Cindy Ziemke serves as Vice Chairman of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction.  Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.

Ziemke Column_4.19.docx