This week began hearings of all House committees, the Senate budget committee and Redistricting public meetings. As you know, the House has had five weeks of delays with the minority walkout. The House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) agreed that it was critical to move forward to complete the work the Senate and House members were elected to do. The House committees are hearing testimony on bills that have passed the Senate with an intent to "amend and vote" when a quorum is achieved. The budget bill, which typically is passed by the House first, is taking a new route this year. The Senate has taken the House Ways and Means Committee budget bill (HB1001) as a starting point to conduct its hearings with the participation of House committee members.
For bills that were "stranded", that is, passed through a House Committee, but not voted out of the House, we are looking for bills of a related topic, or germane, that have passed the House, have yet to be heard in the Senate, and could be amended to include the key elements of the stranded bill. This takes tremendous cooperation between the bills' authors and Senate sponsors. It is not the approach we would prefer, but a better alternative than letting these bills "die on the vine". There are almost 50 bills stuck in this process.
Redistricting, the once each 10 year activity that portions population from the census to the 100 House districts, 50 Senate districts and congressional seats, must be completed this year as well. Detailed census data was received this month and a total of nine hearings are being held across the state this week in preparation for the Elections and Apportionment Committee to begin considering new districts.
My first bill, the Young Entrepreneur Program, House Bill 1251, was one of the first bills signed into law by the governor. It passed the House and Senate unanimously and will be one more tool for job creation linking young graduating entrepreneurs to be linked with communities committed to helping them start their businesses. This program should be up and running next year.
Tuesday of this week Indiana's Democrat walkout became the longest walkout in our nation's history according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This is not a record for which we are proud. I remain optimistic that our House colleagues will return. I believe Democrat and Republican House members alike want to get back to work. It is time to put all politics and egos aside and to ensure the work we were elected to do for our districts and the state of Indiana is completed in a thorough, bipartisan manner.
Thanks for your continued support and feedback. Have a wonderful week as we usher in spring.
Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand)