[r63] Messmer Report: Now is the Time for Your Input

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer tends to be a quiet time of the year at the Statehouse.

The House and Senate are not in session, so their chambers sit empty. Kids are splashing in pools or running around at camp, rather than taking class field trips to see where state law is made.

Aside from the occasional press conference or Supreme Court nomination, there's not too much news being made within the thick limestone walls. but soon, we'll be whisked into back-to-school preparations and harvest.

We'll watch the holidays fly past us, and then as we welcome the new year and settle into the cold, the 100 representatives and 50 senators elected from all corners of the state will be summoned to the Statehouse in Indianapolis to resume working for the people by introducing new state laws and adjusting old ones to fit the needs of Hoosiers.

It's hard to imagine going from 97% humidity to slushy roads and winter coats, but the time really will fly by.

That's why right now, I need your help. I need your input now so that we can prepare to introduce your ideas to the legislature next year.

Laws cannot just be introduced on a whim. Each proposed bill begins with a suggestion-most often one that is made months before session begins-and most often from a constituent at home.

Someone might call or email my office, reach my legislative aide, or talk to me when they see me out around the community. I then take that idea, and make several calls to community leaders or state agencies.

This takes time as various parties inquire as to whether changing state law would be appropriate for the situation.

If it turns out that the issue does merit some change, we get input from as many parties as possible and then we take the idea to the lawyers at the Legislative Services Agency.

These are the people with the training to draft the idea into language that can fit into existing code and state laws. This drafted document is known as a bill, and will be in an almost constant state of transition as it moves through the legislative process, which begins after Christmas.

But before that process can start, the bill must be officially filed. The first day for filing a bill in Indiana is November 16-also known as Organization Day.

Org Day, as it's called, is usually the only time during the fall when all of the legislators are gathered at the Statehouse, and it's also when the newly elected members get sworn in.

As the name implies, a lot of other details also get squared away on this day so that on the first session day in January, we can really hit the ground running with all of our proposed bills ready to go.

So right now, during the dog days of summer, is the best possible time to hear from you. Right now there are still several months to research and draft ideas to introduce to the rest of the legislature.

To help jog your memory and give you an idea of the kinds of proposals we may be addressing next year, I've set up an online survey on my website.

Just visit www.in.gov/h63 and click on the 2010 Summer Survey link in the upper right corner. On my survey you'll have an opportunity to give me your thoughts on issues like healthcare, immigration, jobs and abortion.

I can't stress enough how crucial it is for me to hear your thoughts on these issues. I strive to represent our community as accurately as possible, and for that to happen, communication must be constant.

If you don't get a chance to fill out the survey, you can always email me your thoughts at h63@in.gov.