If you are planning a trip to the Statehouse this session, you had better hurry.
We are already coming upon our first major deadline of the session. We have until February 3rd to hear and pass House bills. After that date, the House will start the process for the second half by considering Senate bills while House bills will be considered in the Senate. At the pace we are moving, we could be done by the end of February and that would be welcome news to not only the taxpayers, but also to us.
We have spent the first couple of weeks passing some major pieces of legislation - a property tax cap referendum, ethics reform and township reorganization, just to name a few. We are now focusing on a wide variety of other issues. There are many not-so-exciting technical bills which will never make it into the news, but are necessary to keep the state running smoothly. However, a few high-profile issues have emerged this week such as protection of gunowners rights, visitation rights, and the state-wide smoking ban. This week I want to bring you up to date on township reform.
This has been a huge issue for many in the legislature, as well as for Gov. Daniels. House Bill (HB) 1181 would place a question on the November 2010 ballot asking each township if they want to retain the current structure of township government - trustees and advisory boards. My position has been that in most of the areas of my district, the township system works. I feel that trustees serve a vital role as a governmental representative for you on a more immediate and local scale. I do agree that many of the duties of the township advisory boards, which are mainly budgetary, could be transferred to the County Council as the fiscal body of the county.
While in principle I think the system works, I also understand the need to let the people of this district make their own decision. The biggest problem with HB1181 is that the vote is township by township. For example - if 4 townships in Adams County vote to pass the proposal and 8 do not, the duties of the 4 townships would be transferred to County Commissioners and County Council while the 8 would keep the current system. If you think it is burdensome now, just wait until it is a hybrid of both! I believe any vote should be county wide. An amendment was offered to do just that, but it was defeated.
HB 1181 passed the house 54-44. I voted against the bill. It now moves to the Senate for debate and we will follow this issue closely as we near the end of the session.
Next week I will tackle an issue that has caused quite a stir and is an emotional issue - gun owner's rights.
Just a reminder: I will be having 5 town hall meetings this Saturday in Geneva, Berne, Decatur, Woodburn and Monroeville. If you have questions about the meetings or want more details, please call Laura Finch at 1-800-382-9841 or (317)-232-9831.
Keeping things In Lehman's Terms,
State Rep. Matt Lehman