The General Assembly has powered through the legislative session with last week marking the halfway point of session. The House passed 175 bills which have been sent to the Senate for further consideration. Similarly, 216 Senate bills are now being discussed and debated in the House.
Now, with the bills changing house of origin, the debates, bills, amendments, committee meetings become increasing important to the life of the legislation. As chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development, I am able oversee bills that will help the Indiana economy grow, and I want to take this opportunity to highlight some bills for you.
The first bill I would like to highlight is Senate Bill 529, which would establish the Office of Energy Development (OED) and the Office of Defense Development. It’s important for our state to have a chief energy officer to consider and promote our state’s energy capabilities and needs. We will also now have someone spearheading growth for the defense industry in our state. As the sponsor for the bill, it is important for our state to have a Chief Energy Officer to consider and promote our state’s energy capabilities and needs.
The OED will oversee and administer various grant programs for using alternative fuels and loan programs that work in consultation with the Indiana Recycling Market Development Board, the Indiana Coal Research Grant Fund, the Green Industries Fund and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Overall, the bill will help Indiana move forward with sustainable energy development now and in the future.
I am also a co-sponsor on Senate Bill 521, entitled the Indiana New Markets Job Act. The tax credit, stemming from the federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program, is designed to attract private investments in economically distressed neighborhoods.
The Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University conducted a study on the effectiveness of the federal NMTC and how a state-level version of the NMTC affected overall levels of investment. The study found that states with their own version of a New Markets Tax Credit had higher levels of NMTC investments with Indiana’s program estimated to attract $433 million in investments over a seven-year period.
I am confident in the potential of this legislation to really make a difference in struggling neighborhoods.
Both of these bills address our state’s economy and help keep Indiana on the right path of growth and prosperity. It is important to prepare for the future and invest in our economy; the House’s budget does that.
The House’s proposed budget is balanced and will reduce taxpayer-funded debt. It embodies the principles of fiscal integrity and protects Hoosier taxpayers. The 2014-2015 budget promises that every dollar spent will be spent with a purpose. Both fiscal years will have a structural balance so spending levels are sustainable for the future. Future generations of the state will inherit opportunities and not deficits.
As we have completed the first week of the second half of session, I assure you that I remain committed to promoting small business growth, strengthening our infrastructure and providing a world class education system. I believe in what Indiana can do and what we can accomplish, together, by maintaining our fiscal integrity as one voice.