For the third day in a row, the House Minority members have refused to carry out their legislative duties. As elected representatives, we all have a responsibility to be present and debate the issues that are important to Indiana. With their delay tactics and refusal to appear, the House Democrats are denying representation to all Hoosiers and preventing necessary legislation from moving forward.
I’ve spent many months working on House Bill (HB) 1068 concerning the budgets of local fire protection territories. In order to establish a budget, the board of a fire protection territory holds a public hearing where members of the community can voice their concerns. Once the budget is passed, it goes to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) for approval. However, currently there are few guidelines for the DLGF to follow when considering a budget.
HB 1068 would create more specific guidelines for the DLGF when reviewing fire protection territory budgets. Additionally, if a group of taxpayers believes the budget submitted by the local board is unreasonable or inadequate, they would be able to make an appeal to the DLGF.
The purpose of this legislation is to ensure fire protection territories have a reasonable budget to provide citizens with excellent firefighting service, equipment, and response time. HB 1068 would not underfund or dissolve fire protection territories in any way. It simply provides the state agency responsible for reviewing local budgets with greater details on what fire protection territories need to be effective.
With this legislation, taxpayer dollars would be used more efficiently and the DLGF would have a better understanding of the needs of individual fire protection territories.
I’m hopeful that the House Minority will return to work so that this important piece of legislation can be considered.
If you have not had the opportunity to complete my 2012 Legislative Survey, I encourage you to visit my website at www.in.gov/h75 and follow the survey link at the top-right of the page. Your input is important for me to better represent you at the Statehouse. I’m eager to hear your thoughts on all of the issues facing Indiana this session; I can be reached by phone at 317-232-9671 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and I wish you a happy and safe beginning to the new year.