The 2009-10 Indiana General Assembly has adjourned. The group of 150 senators and representatives who made policy at the Statehouse is not likely to be gathered together ever again.
This session has been especially memorable for me, since it's my very first. In the next few weeks, I'll write about some of the things I found most surprising about my first term in office.
If you are registered to vote in House District 63, you'll also receive an end-of-session newsletter from me in a few weeks.
However, today I'd like to give a plug for something else that probably appeared in your mailbox last week: the 2010 Census form.
According to http://www.2010.census.gov/, "people from many walks of life use census data to advocate for causes, rescue disaster victims, prevent diseases, research markets, locate pools of skilled workers and more."
Census data is also used to determine how political districts are drawn. If not everyone fills out the census, Indiana could lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is what happened in 2000.
That would mean one less vote being cast on behalf of Hoosiers on important legislation, like the national health care bill.
Not only that, census data is used to determine how $400 billion in federal funding (and even more in the form of state funding) is distributed.
Basically, 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.
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, "Hey, there are a lot of people living here!"
In 2000, the Jasper area had about a 72% participation rate in the Census. Let's see if we can do even better this year!
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.
Again, according to the 2010 Census Web site, "[a]ll census takers carry a badge with a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date.
"Some census workers might carry a U.S. Census Bureau bag as well.
"The census taker will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the Local Census Office phone number for verification, if asked."
However, millions of taxpayers' dollars can be saved if more people send back the form instead of waiting for a census worker to visit their home, so it's definitely best to return your data as soon as possible.
In the future, it may be possible to fill out the census form online, but that will not be an option for 2010.
If you need help filling out the 2010 Census questionnaire, feel free to contact the census office at 1-866-872-6868.