By the time you read this, the 2015 legislative session will officially be underway. Each session brings with it a new set of challenges but also the opportunity to once again move Indiana forward.
If you have never been to the Statehouse during session, it can be difficult to describe. For lawmakers, I think the best way to describe it is like starting a new school year. At one time or another, we have all been students and can remember that slight nervousness and anticipation as the new year draws to a start. For the first couple of days, we enjoyed seeing our classmates that we did not have the opportunity to spend time with during the summer months. The same is true of lawmakers. But just like when we were in school, there is much work to do in a short amount of time and that excitement quickly evolves into determination.
This session, the one piece of legislation that will demand most of our time and attention is the biennial budget. Every two years, the Legislature is tasked with crafting a budget, and just like in years past, it will be our priority to create an honestly balanced budget that lives within our means. As lawmakers, Hoosiers have entrusted us to be their voice in Indianapolis, and I believe we have an obligation to manage their tax dollars responsibly.
On a personal level, one of my priorities this session is to further explore the topic of e-cigarettes. Total e-cigarette sales in calendar year (CY) 2013 were approximately $1.3 to $1.9 billion, and industry estimates predict that these sales will increase at an average annual rate of up to 68 percent through CY 2017. As a respiratory therapist, I find it alarming that the popularity of e-cigarettes is on the rise. While little is still known about the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes, a study recently discovered that users could have a higher risk of contracting a respiratory infection.
As we tackle these important issues, it is imperative that we keep an open line of communication. One excellent way to do this is by filling out my 2015 constituent survey. This is something we do each year at the beginning of the legislative session and allows you to express your hopes for the new year. This is important because as your state representative, it is my primary responsibility to represent your voice in Indianapolis.
I understand that we all have many other things which demand our time, but I encourage you to take a moment to fill out this survey and mail it back to me at the Statehouse. You can also fill it out online at www.in.gov/h75/, but please only complete one survey.
In my opinion, this is one of the most crucial elements of the legislative process. I truly believe that Indiana is on the right track, but there is always more that we can do to make Indiana the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family. Thank you in advance for your participation, and I look forward to your feedback!