Full Steam Ahead
The legislative week in the House was "full steam ahead". In one week, the State of the State occurred, the State of the Judiciary took place, Rep. Donnelly stopped by on the House floor and Sen. Coats gave a speech from the House floor. In addition, bill filings were required early in the week and committee meetings began to hear the bills that were filed. As Speaker Bosma has said, "committees are the workhorse of the legislature". During committee meetings amendments may be added and the bills "cleaned up" before going back to the House floor for a second hearing. It is on third reading that bills are "passed" to the other Chamber, the Senate, or voted down. The most notable bill heard this week in the Public Health Committee was for a potential statewide smoking ban in public places. There was discussion about exempting casinos. A vote in committee is likely to come next week.
The State of the State was given by Governor Daniels on Tuesday evening. As a freshman legislator, it was a privilege to hear him deliver the speech from in the House chamber. Many of the issues the Governor addressed have the strong support of Hoosiers: a balanced budget, no new taxes, job creation, and fair redistricting. The two issues in which I hear District 74 constituents differ with the Governor on are education and local government reform. I think it is important to keep in mind that legislation that will eventually pass and be enacted will also need the support of both the House and Senate. Know that I will be working hard to represent our district, facilitate compromise and consensus, and work for the best interests of southwest Indiana and our state.
On Thursday, Jan. 12th we received the Governor's proposed budget. He has, to his promise, delivered a budget recommendation that has no tax increases and is balanced over the biennium. It leaves 5% in reserve at the end of the 2 years, which is a minimal, yet prudent level. K-12 education would remain flat lined, therefore not receiving any more cuts for two more years.
I recognize there is something in this budget for all of us to dislike. Now the Governor's proposed budget will be introduced as House Bill 1001 by Rep. Espich (R- Uniondale), Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee.
We knew this would be a tough legislative session. I, however, continue to be encouraged as Indiana has weathered this deep recession much better than our neighbors. We have all shared the pain and, over the next two years, I hope we will begin to share in the fruits of the new Hoosier prosperity for which we have laid the foundation.
Best wishes to you and your family. I welcome your continued feedback and thank you for your support.
Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand)