The 2013 legislative session has come to close, bringing an end to one of the most productive four months I have ever been a part of at the Statehouse. At the end of each session, I always try to reflect on some of the accomplishments and the work done on behalf of the people. Everything moves quickly at the Statehouse, but it is a process that works for the betterment of our state. It’s an experience I feel incredibly humbled to be a part of, and I am grateful for the opportunities bestowed onto to me by our community.
The biennial budget that passed this session is the most noteworthy piece of legislation we worked on as it sets the foundation for every other bill and policy initiative. The budget provides a 5 percent income tax reduction for Hoosiers, in addition to the elimination of the death tax. The financial blueprint put forth by the General Assembly enacts conservative principles and is sustainable for the long-term health of the state.
Funding K-12 and higher education make up the majority of the budget, seeing a 3 percent increase in overall education spending over the biennium. There will also be an additional $300 million set aside in the Tuition Reserve Fund, which provides a safety net in case the economy retracts.
Hoosiers can also look forward to improved infrastructure conditions because road and bridge funding has been increased by $215 million. The state will also reduce taxpayer funded debt by paying off outstanding bonds on two state-owned facilities and cash fund capital projects.
In looking at some of the bills I had a hand in crafting, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1027 concerns civil immunity for services in a state of emergency. This legislation was commonly referred to as the “Good Samaritan Act” because it gives a pass to individuals who assist in a state of emergencies, such as the Indiana state fair stage collapse or the tornadoes that occurred in Henryville last year. In this bill, civil immunity would be granted to a registered architect, land surveyor or professional engineer.
Another important piece of legislation that passed this session is Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 529. I was a sponsor of this bill, which creates the Office of Energy Development (OED) and the Office of Defense Development. The OED is overseen by the governor, and the Office of Defense Development is overseen by the lieutenant governor.
The OED will oversee and administer various grant programs for using alternative fuels and loan programs that work to help Indiana move forward with sustainable energy development now and in the future.
This session I served as Chair of the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development committee. Many bills came through our committee that will help grow Indiana’s economy and provide Hoosiers with the tools to realize their aspirations. With each vote, I focused on Indiana’s fiscal future, and I will continue to support initiatives that enhance the lives of the people in our community.
In the coming months of the interim and looking to the future, I will continue to diligently serve Hoosiers in my position as your state representative. I have been honored to represent you at the Statehouse this session and look forward to seeing the growth of our state as we head into a better, brighter future.