I think one of the most all encompassing, influential pieces of legislation that moved through the House this past legislative session was House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1376. This legislation was recently signed by Governor Daniels and will provide relief, in many different ways, to Hoosiers all across the state.
Specifically, HEA 1376 will provide additional funding to state fair stage collapse victims, double the amount of funding for full day kindergarten and enhance the Automatic Taxpayer Refund.
Last summer I served as a member of the State Fair Advisory Committee. This committee serves as a liaison between the Indiana State Fair Commission, the State Fair Board and the General Assembly.
As you can imagine this committee took on a whole new meaning following the tragic stage collapse that happened during a concert at the State Fair last August. Ever since this tragedy the Legislature, along with the committee, have been searching for ways to prevent tragedies like this in the future and find ways to compensate the victims of this awful event.
Through this legislation we will increase the amount of compensation available to the state fair stage collapse victims from $5 million to $11 million and will be providing ongoing assistance for those victims who suffered long-term disabilities.
Due to my involvement with the State Fair Advisory Committee I was glad to see this increase made, no amount of money will be able to completely resolve this issue but this is the least we could do to help with this unforeseen event and those who were affected by it.
Over the past two years, a major emphasis has been placed on improving our state’s education system. Improving education should start with our youngest students and providing them with a solid foundation that can lead to success.
I am pleased that through HEA 1376, an additional $80-100 million in funding will be provided for full day kindergarten. Furthermore, it will increase the per student grant award from $1,227 per student to $2,400 per student. This will be the most significant investment in full day kindergarten in our state’s history.
Last year we created the Automatic Taxpayer Refund. We were able to make improvements to this and ensure that taxpayer refunds are distributed more fairly. Current projections show that over three million Hoosiers could receive a refund of $50 each when they file their 2012 tax returns next year.
As you can see this enacted legislation is wide-ranging and touched on a variety of subject matter. Yet, through this single piece of legislation we are able to help out and provide many beneficial options to a large majority of Hoosiers.
It is my hope that in the future we can continue to find ways to assist those in need all while making positive advancements for our state.