[r76] Lack of attendence silences local voices (3/21/2011)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Start Date: 3/21/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/21/2011
It is no secret that I had one of the toughest House campaign races this election season. I was driven in my quest to become your state representative because I wanted to make a difference and be the voice for the citizens of House District 76.  Unfortunately, the Democrat caucus' actions over the past four weeks have prohibited me from being that voice. 

What we do here at the Statehouse is important and makes a difference.  Our actions affect citizens statewide.  I wish my colleagues on the other side of the aisle felt the gravity and importance of what we do enough to stay, debate the issues and partake in the democratic process.  

My responsibilities lay in being my constituents' voice in Indianapolis and in upholding the honor of this office. We, in Posey County, were taught that when the going gets tough, you do not run away from the situation, but continue to work together to create solutions.  Fleeing the state has not moved us closer to solutions, but has further polarized the situation and continues to leave problems unresolved.  

Our local communities need representation, true representation, at the state level; they have problems that need solutions.  How can we, the sixty or so that are here, solve problems when we are constitutionally prohibited from conducting business because we lack the quorum needed to do so?

Even though we cannot conduct official business on the House floor, myself and other House Republicans have continued to work for our communities. 

Posey County schools have greatly needed representation here at the Statehouse and I have worked hard to meet their needs.  I have been collaborating with Posey County superintendents to help resolve funding concerns.  These schools are all facing budget reductions; in an effort to minimize the impact of this, I have been talking with the Chairman of Ways and Means Jeff Espich and his committee members to help restore certain grants that would provide needed funds.

In an effort to further help resolve funding issues, I authored House Bill 1417, which allows, until 2014, a school corporation to use the school Capital Projects Fund for utilities and insurance.

House Bill 1417 states that 3.5% of the school corporation's 2005 distribution is the maximum amount that may be paid from the Capital Project Fund in a calendar year for utilities and insurance expenditures. Luckily, this bill was heard on the House floor before the Democrats left and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate.

Not all legislation was so lucky to make it over to the Senate though. The Democrats absence has left much needed and important legislation unheard and dead. Legislation that would affect many will now have to go without. 

Hoosier retirees will lose $41 million in funding, students and minors will not be as protected, along with many other issues that won't be passed because of the Democrat's walkout. 

I came into this position with the intention and belief that I could make a difference. I want to be the change I promised to be. I no longer want to be prohibited by the 39 members who refuse to give democracy a chance.

Their continued absence has stifled the voices of Hoosiers across the state, Republicans and Democrats.  I may be new, but I know that this is not how the process is supposed to work.  I resolve to stay committed to being the voice of constituents of District 76.