"Icing" the Legislature
What a week in Indy! The legislature was able to meet Monday and Thursday, with an ice storm closing down most of Indianapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday. As a freshman, it was a time to catch up on constituent contacts and bill reading and to meet one-on-one with leadership. Even with this shortened legislative week, we accomplished quite a lot.
The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund bill, House Bill 1450, passed through the House and now moves to the Senate. This bill will pay back the $2 billion owed to the Federal government. Legislation passed in 2010 would have placed the burden on the backs of employers with per employee costs exploding, in some cases, to nearly $1000 per employee. That would have been a disastrous "job killer". In HB 1450, the same employer will pay just over $700 per employee. Not great, but better than it would have been. HB 1450 retains the maximum $390 per week benefit while annualizing wages and ensuring eligibility to those who are no longer drawing a weekly paycheck. Indiana employers and employees had lived "beyond our means" for almost 10 years with this fund as employers paid in too little and employee benefits continued to rise. For those who are impacted by this bill, I thank you in advance for your sacrifice and your support.
Thursday we passed the first Senate legislation, Senate Bill 32. This bill enables counties to pursue voting centers. Three counties, Tippecanoe, Wayne and Cass, have already piloted to great success the idea of having a number of "voting centers" in each county rather than separate polling sites in each precinct. This bill does not require voting centers, but allows the county election boards, if unanimous, to adopt this approach. The pilot counties experienced not only high voter approval and turnout for this change, but thousands in savings as staffing and management is much more efficient.
Education legislation continues to be the "hot button" for those in K-12 education. I have received dozens of e-mails, letters and calls from teachers concerned this legislation goes too far and is directed against teachers. I agree it is a lot of change, but it is not against teachers. After parents, many agree that teachers are the most important adults in our children's lives. I will continue to voice the concerns of parents, teachers and administrators at the Statehouse. And, I will share what this legislation really does as I've found much information in the responses received. There is much at stake. We must focus on changes which will prepare our children to succeed in a highly competitive world.
Finally, please join me at legislative updates scheduled in each of our four counties in February. Please contact me, check my website or your local newspaper for details. Your perspectives continue to shape my legislative agenda and how I can best support growing southwest Indiana.
Stay warm and be safe in this wintery time,
Sue Ellspermann, PhD
Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand)