[r76] Building relationships, crafting legislation (4/22/2011)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Start Date: 4/22/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/22/2011
Two of my top priorities this legislative session were to build relationships that would improve Southwest Indiana and to author, sponsor and amend bills that are needed for all Hoosiers.

This has ranged from crafting legislation to help our schools stretch their dollars to making the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) aware of our roadway needs.

Building and developing a strong working relationship with INDOT has been a top priority since our roads are in desperate need of attention. I have advocated for the fixing of our roads such as in Posey County, a safer route for trucks to turn west out of the Port, the "truck ruts" that line Highway 62 in Mount Vernon and many other issues that have been brought to my attention by constituents.

Last week, I led Senate Bill 465 through the House legislative process. The bill streamlines the Department of Child Services (DCS) and brings clarity to DCS programs. A large portion of this bill removes conflict in language to align Indiana with federal guidelines, other portions amend some definitions.

Key sections focus on domestic violence. This bill will clarify what the fatality review team can assess when investigating the suicide of a victim of domestic violence. The bill also changes the foster care license capacity from 8-5, but does give exception to foster families who care for siblings.

Another significant aspect of this bill pertains to the interviewing of children in an alleged case of domestic violence. Currently DCS needs the permission of the child's parent or guardian to have access to interview the child. This is an apparent conflict of interest when the parent or guardian could be the perpetrator.

This was a bipartisan bill that passed out of the Senate with a vote of 49-1, out of the Committee for Family, Children and Human Affairs with a vote of 9-0 and out of the House with a vote of 85-13. The passage of this bill will permit DCS to better facilitate services to children and families.

I came to the Statehouse with the intention of sticking to my beliefs and to represent my constituents. I am resolute on continuing to build relationships that will redirect focus on Southwest Indiana and on crafting legislation that serves Hoosier families.