3rd House Legislative Session Report

photoThe 2013 edition of the 3rd House Legislative Session report is in the books and what a difference a year makes.  Once again the Wabash Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs sponsored the event. Invited to speak and answer questions were State Senator Jim Banks of District 17 and State Representative David Wolkins of District 18.

Unfortunately Mr. Wolkins wasn’t able to attend, but Senator Banks did an excellent job carrying the load. Also not in attendance this year, were the nearly two dozen union protesters sent last year to disrupt the meeting. But for the two dozen or so who did attend, they were treated to a very informative update of the legislative happenings in this winter in Indianapolis.

The first item discussed was the Budget proposed by the House and how it differed from what Governor Pence introduced. The Pence budget included a 1% increase over the $14 billion spent last year in education. The House plan would include a $300 million increase for education. Senator Banks pointed out that throwing money at a problem doesn’t always solve everything and that increase must also include more accountability and school choice. The Pence budget also included a 10% tax cut across the board for all Hoosiers and Mr. Banks expressed his disappointment that the House left that out of their version. Although, he did express optimism that once the bill got to the Senate, the tax cut may find its way back in to the final budget.

Another item discussed was SB193 that addresses Common Core Education Standards.  SB193 was originally intended to pull Indiana out of the Common Core standards, that although are a national standard are actually lower than the standards already in place for Indiana. Banks pointed out that the current language of SB193 is to “take a time out to assess the standards more than pulling Indiana out altogether.

Also covered was a bill that would allow for public records to be displayed on websites with 24/7 access instead of requiring that municipalities pay for space in local newspapers. This would not only save local governments money, but would give them more transparency.

Some in the audience asked about bills that would “nullify” Obamacare and Agenda 21. And while Banks indicated that those specific bills would probably die in committee, there was a more generic bill, SB400, would criminalize the participation of any state actor involved with enforcing a state or federal law that is “unconstitutional.”

Overall, the meeting was enjoyable and very cordial. A round of kudos is in order for the Wabash Chamber of Commerce. I’m already looking forward to next year’s meeting.

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