[r63] Messmer Report: Progress being made on bills to provide more efficient government

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, January 27, 2012

It’s been a productive week at the Statehouse. The top story across the state was when House Bill (HB) 1001, known as the Right to Work bill, received final approval in the House. The bill passed with a vote of 54-44. I was required to abstain from voting on this particular bill. We have a part-time citizen legislature, and when dealing with a bill that directly affects your non-legislative jobs, under our conflict of interest rules we are expected to abstain from voting on those measures. I own a union construction company, and as agreed by the House Speaker, this bill’s impact on my company justified not voting.

A bill that has received a lot of support in our community and across the state made further progress this week. HB 1005, dealing with nepotism and conflict of interest in local government will soon be considered by the full House. This bill would prevent a person from serving on the executive board that approves their own salary and benefits, and limits the ability to hire one’s own relatives. As a co-author of this bill I’m looking forward to this bill making further progress.

Two of the bills that I authored also received final passage from the House this week. HB 1148 makes updates to the state law regarding testing for engineering and surveying licenses and passed 88-3. In the near future the organization that administers those exams is changing to all computer based exams. Our current laws require those exams must be written tests. HB 1148 would update our laws to comply with the national standards.

A second bill I authored, HB 1154, would repeal some provisions that were passed last legislative session that require local governments to give up to a 5 percent price preference on everything they buy, and on construction work. HB 1154 totally repeals the requirement on construction work to keep in compliance with Federal competitive bidding rules, and makes the price preference optional on purchases of supplies.  This bill passed by a vote of 78-18.

Finally, the first bill to pass both the House and Senate was Senate Bill 4 which would toughen the laws against human trafficking. Specifically, it would increase the penalty for forcing or recruiting minors under age 16 to participate in prostitution. Children would be further protected from being forced into prostitution, which has been proven to increase during large sporting events in urban settings, such as the Super Bowl. This bill will now go to the governor to be signed into law.

In the coming weeks, we in the General Assembly will continue to work for a more efficient government that promotes Indiana business and creates jobs.  As always, if you would like to share your thoughts on this legislation, I can be reached by phone at 317-232-9671 or by email at h63@in.gov.  I appreciate your support and interest in the issues facing Indiana in this legislative session.