[r76] The 2011 Legislative Session--Adjourned (4/29/2011)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Start Date: 4/29/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/29/2011
Last week was the final stretch of the 2011 legislative session. April 29th was "sine die" day, which means that all official business to come before the House must be completed.

The last week is dedicated to the final vetting of legislation. We discuss the amendments made to bills when they were in the opposite chamber to which the bill originated. This is an important week because we discuss these amendments extensively to ensure we put forth the best possible legislation for Hoosier families.

It took many long days working into the nights for my colleagues and I to make sure every piece of legislation was given the right amount of attention. These discussions happen in two ways, in conference committees where the House and the Senate debate amendments together and come to a compromise and then take those compromises to the House floor for a vote. The other option is for the chamber of the bill's origin to accept the latest version of the bill through a concurrence.

The last bill discussed Friday night was also one of the most important bills of the session. It was the budget bill, which will lay out the spending plan for the next two fiscal years, 2012 and 2013.

From the beginning, we were resolute that the budget be structurally balanced by 2013, provide for sufficient reserves and not include a tax increase. I am pleased to say we have been steadfast in delivering upon these guidelines. This budget combined with other legislation, will continue to lead Indiana out of this recession.

Many bills were crafted this legislative session to stimulate job creation and incentivize employers to grow and relocate to Indiana. Through the Venture Capital Investment tax credit, startup capital for businesses will now be more accessible to those companies who are just beginning to grow.

It was also a priority to help revitalize hard hit communities, especially those which have many empty factories and warehouses. We worked to make improvements to the Industrial Tax Credit.

Through those improvements, employers will be able to defer upfront capital costs for rehabilitating these facilities. This is beneficial because these costs often prevent new businesses from starting up. Hoosier employers now have an incentive to reutilize abandoned factories and warehouses, leading to economic growth within our community.

Many of my bills this session have focused on protecting our children and helping those at risk.

I crafted legislation which ensures that credit time for inmates is truly furthering their education. House Bill 1416 will enforce guidelines for inmates' education and requires inmates to have correspondence courses approved in advance by the Department of Correction.

The program would let inmates know where they can obtain a justifiable education that will allow them to earn a high school diploma and qualify them for a reduced sentence. It allows there to be a systematic process that ensures all inmates are receiving a legitimate and valuable education. This bill is now headed to the governor's desk for final approval.

House Bill 1418 requires the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office to establish a child protection registry. The bill allows for parents to sign up with the state and to give contact points for children, so that they will be added to a data base which ensures that companies cannot send them inappropriate content containing subject matter not allowed for minors, such as alcohol, tobacco or explicit material.

This is similar to a 'do-not-call-list' and would ensure Hoosier children would be safeguarded against receiving inappropriate content. House Bill 1418 will be placed in a summer study committee to receive further discussion throughout the interim.

These last four months have been unpredictable and at times unprecedented. The current economic climate has called for innovative thinking and action. We worked hard to craft legislation which would stimulate job growth and place Indiana on the road to prosperity.

The government cannot create jobs, but we have tried to put tools in place to foster job creation. As many states continue to face out of control deficits and spending, I feel assured that Indiana will remain in the black and hopefully continue the trend of a decreasing unemployment rate and the increasing of state revenues.

Indiana is poised to continue to be one of the more fiscally sound states in the country and more economically desirable to individuals and business alike.

We said we would work hard and end on time. It has taken hard work and long nights, but I believe the legislation passed during this session will help Hoosiers across the state, and I would certainly call this session a success.