2014 Legislative Session Comes to a Close
The Indiana General Assembly has reached the end of their legislative session and has adjourned. This session has been packed from start to finish with compelling debate, and I believe we have great legislation to show for it. Chief among that legislation are the House Republican’s agenda bills, which stand out as the biggest goals the House chose to focus on this session. I’m pleased to say that after ten weeks of the legislative session, the House was able to accomplish all of these goals.
The House passed HEA 1005, a comprehensive bill focused on reducing wasteful bureaucracy by removing old and unnecessary lines of the Indiana Code. In 2010, Speaker Bosma created the Government Reduction Committee to better protect Hoosier taxpayers. This committee has been working diligently to have Indiana’s government be leaner and more efficient with 40 boards and commissions and over 400 appointments being eliminated. This bill expands on those eliminations by removing duplicative code, red tape and layers of bureaucracy.
Indiana has the reputation for being the “Crossroads of America”; our roads are used for travel and commerce by people all over the nation—over $500 billion in goods traveled on Indiana roads last year. Because of this, we authored House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1002, which authorized the Indiana Budget Office to move up to $400 million to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to rebuild and improve many of the roads across our state. This will allow our state to leverage up to $1.6 billion of federal dollars for road expansions, creating tens of thousands of jobs for Hoosiers.
With more than 930,000 Hoosiers lacking the most basic skills that are needed for today’s economy, the legislature addressed the skills gap with HEA 1003. This bill encourages schools to create more programs that include internships and real-world job experiences with grants. These programs will be able to connect and equip students so they’re more qualified when joining the workforce, getting more Hoosier the high-wage, high-demand jobs they want.
Of course, the best investment we can make is in the future- children who are not ready for kindergarten are half as likely to read proficiently by third grade, and children who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. By proposing HEA 1004, the House made clear its priority to empower our youngest in education. This bill creates a pilot preschool education program for kids in low-income households, 127 percent of the poverty level or below. Many of these kids who miss out on such a formative educational experience start school at a disadvantage they’ll never fully make up, but with a strong program to help these kids, they’ll have the opportunity to make more of their academic experience.
Now that these bills have gone through the rigorous discussion and debate on the House and Senate floors, they are currently awaiting final approval form the governor before becoming law. Though the agenda bills make up the House’s top priorities this past session, it’s far from all we’ve done. I encourage anyone interested in other bills we discussed to look for more information at www.iga.in.gov — you can search bills by legislator or topic.