Wrapping up the 2014 Legislative Session
The 2014 session of the Indiana General Assembly is now completed, and bills have been sent to the governor for his signature. Although this year was a short session, we were able to deliver on our agenda and pass legislation that will benefit Hoosiers across the state.
Through House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1002, we were able to allocate up to $400 million for road construction which will make Indiana eligible for more than $1.6 billion in federal funding to complete priority road projects, improving the highway infrastructure of the “Crossroads of America.” These measures in HEA 1002 can bring tens of thousands of new jobs for Hoosiers.
We were also able to address the skills gap by giving incentives to employers who partner with education institutes to provide internships in high wage and high demand jobs in HEA 1003. Many jobs in our state go unfilled because of a lack of properly trained applicants.
HEA 1004 provides for Indiana to set up a Pre-K Early Education Pilot Program for low-income families to attend high-quality program. Studies show that early education can give these young students a better start in achieving educational success.
The Indiana General Assembly was also able to address the issue of Business Personal Property Tax with Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 1. This will provide a local option for counties to exempt small business filers that pay less than $20,000 in business personal property taxes. It will also give local governments a new tool in an enhanced abatement program which will allow abatements up to 20 years. These enhanced abatements will allow varied levels of abatement and be evaluated every 5 years to assure that the contracts of the abatement are being met. SEA 1 also offers a continued phase down of the corporate income tax making Indiana the second lowest in the nation, only fully phased in. These tools will continue to strengthen our ability to attract new businesses and new jobs to Indiana.
I personally authored and co-authored a couple of bills that I feel will better the lives of Hoosiers: HEA 1217 and HEA 1218. HEA 1217 directs IDEM and DNR to streamline the permitting process for wetland permits. It requires better efficiency and transparency by these agencies as well as improved customer service and information.
HEA 1218 is a bill that addresses drug treatment and reporting. This measure improves the state’s reporting system for controlled substances which will give prescribers more detailed information about treatments. HEA 1218 will also address these changes in Indiana’s drug treatment centers and methadone clinics. This legislation also directs the Division of Mental Health to create protocols and procedures for methadone clinics to transition patients to less addictive drugs and individualized treatments and relying less on methadone. It also reduces the amount of take home medication a patient at an opioid treatment clinic may receive from 14 days to seven days without a prior authorization. Prescription drugs are the most abused drug in Indiana, and these changes are designed to address this issue.
I co-sponsored SEA 375, which focuses on small businesses and start-ups and helps stimulate economic development. It provides a new and less regulated mechanism for small businesses and start-ups to raise capital by intrastate investors. Small investors can invest in these ventures through crowd funding.
The Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship was created in HEA 1332. Under this measure, the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship will now be a part of the Lt. Governor’s office.
I was also involved in HEA 1258 which establishes a Telehealth pilot project. This legislation will allow the Medical Licensing Board to establish rules for medical specialist to treat and prescribe to patients from a distance. This change will create new opportunities for better health care for rural and underserved areas.
This was a short but very busy session for me. I see this as a productive session for our district and our state as we continue to work towards addressing the important issues facing Hoosiers. As summer nears, please do not hesitate to contact me at my office!