[r75] Making progress despite roadblocks (3/25/2011)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Start Date: 3/25/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/25/2011

Making progress despite roadblocks

It has been another week of the standoff here at the Statehouse, and a new record has been set for the longest walkout during session in a state legislature in U.S. history according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). While we have not been able to do anything on the House floor, we have started committee hearings for bills that are coming over from the Senate. No vote can be taken on any of the bills in the committees without our Democrat colleagues present, but we can still hear public testimony on the bills.

I am sponsoring a few bills coming from the Senate, and a couple have already been assigned to House committees. One, Senate Bill 93, would require the Indiana Department of Education to create and send guidelines, information sheets, and forms to schools across the state to be distributed to coaches, student athletes, and the parents of those athletes informing them of the causes and risks of head injuries and concussions.

For high school athletes and their parents, forms must be signed and returned acknowledging that they have received the information and understand the risks. High school athletes that experience any type of head injury would also be removed from the game or practice immediately to prevent any further injuries until they can be examined by a doctor. I have been in the health field for many years and am a member of the House Public Health Committee, so this is a very important issue to me, and I want to do my best to protect our student athletes across the state.

SB 93 is very similar to the bill I filed at the beginning of this session that does many of the same things. Unfortunately, due to the large number of bills filed in the House this session, there was not time for my bill to be heard, so instead I worked with the author of SB 93 because it was so similar. I am very glad that the issue was able to be brought up this session.

Another Senate Bill I am sponsoring in the House helps to increase government efficiency, save the state and Hoosier families money and help disabled children. SB 218 would do away with the Community Residential Council (CRC) and transfer their responsibilities to the Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services (DDRS) in the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA). Many of the responsibilities for the CRC were also found in the DDRS, which created much inefficiency.

Beyond that change, SB 218 deals largely with the FSSA's First Steps program, which is a program that provides assistance to infants and children with disabilities or who are developmentally vulnerable. The bill would adjust the amount that third parties must pay, changes the copayment amounts, and allows that a family only has to pay a copayment for just one child for the entire family. All of this tweaking means savings for both families with disabled children and for the state. Many families would not be required to pay as much, and the state could net up to $5 million in extra revenue per year while simultaneously saving the state up to $1.2 million just in the first year. It really is a win-win situation for the state and Hoosier families, and I am proud to be a sponsor of the bill.

One of the bills I co-authored was approved by the Senate and has been signed into law by the governor this week. The bill sets up a Young Entrepreneurs program for students graduating in entrepreneurship programs across the state. They would be able to create business proposals that Indiana communities can bid on to have the new startup brought to their area. It's a great way to promote and help out our young entrepreneurs, stimulate small business growth and job creation in the state, and bring growth and revenue to Hoosier communities.

In what is now our fifth week of a standoff here in the House, it is great that we have been able to make progress on the many bills that have otherwise been held in limbo since the walkout began. There is still much to be done and action to be taken, including our constitutional requirements of adopting the state budget and drawing new legislative districts. Positive steps to move forward are being made, and I am happy to see the work of the people being continued regardless of the Democrats' strike.

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Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler)