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[r23] Friend Report: The Ides of March
Start Date: 3/19/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/19/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
The Ides of March

The month of March has several unique occurrences: The Ides of March, St. Patrick’s Day, the NCAA basketball tournament and Easter this year. All of these things happen while the weather vacillates between sunshine and snow flurries. Some have said that “March is the dirty trick that gets us from February to April.” All I know is that spring is right around the corner, and our anticipation for warm weather is great.

Julius Caesar was warned by a soothsayer to “Beware the Ides of March.” The saying has become an ominous warning to leaders in government because, in Caesar’s case, the warning came to fruition when Brutus later stabbed him. It is a reminder to all of us in government that we need to be good listeners and problem-solvers to the greatest extent possible.

Here is a random sampling of Senate bills that are moving through the House:

Senate Bill 560 incentivizes the expansion of utilities (gas, broadband and water) to underserved rural areas. It allows utilities to use a tracker to finance the expansion. Trackers are controversial because they can be used to increase costs to the consumer. There are several studies and opportunities for consumers to appeal cost increases.

Senate Bill 496 specifies that ephedrine or pseudoephedrine may be sold only by a pharmacy or retailer that uses the NPEX tracking system. An individual cannot purchase more than 61.2 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in a 365 day period. The bill prohibits a person convicted of certain offenses involving meth from possession of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine within 7 years of the person’s conviction. It also increases the penalty for furnishing precursors for meth and makes it a Class A felony if the person causes a fire or explosion that results in serious bodily injury to another person. This bill is an ongoing effort to control the meth problem in Indiana.

Senate Bill 115 requires state educational institutions that have at least 200 veteran students enrolled to establish a Combat to College program. The program would streamline admissions, housing, guidance, counseling and job search programs for veteran students. It’s important that we provide a seamless transition for Indiana’s veterans upon completion of their service.

Senate Bill 164 allows a prosecutor to request a juvenile court to authorize the filing of CHINS (Child in Need of Services) petitions and is specific about representation.  This bill is a result of the Department of Child Services study committee and the Mental Health and Addiction Commission.

Senate Bill 202 makes specific requirements for a person who files a petition to establish or modify a guardianship, visitation or custody of a child.  This bill is another effort to protect our children by increasing the requirements for custody.

Senate Bill 350 is a bill that modernizes the selection process for the trustees of Wabash College.  Why, you may ask, does state government need to pass laws governing a private, all-male college in Crawfordsville? The answer is that Wabash College was created by charter in state statute in the 1830s, and college officials wish to maintain that historical connection to Indiana by updating the statute. 

An interesting amendment was offered to the bill by Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City), which would have made any governor and board of trustees that voted to make the governor the president of a state university Class D felons. The amendment was aimed specifically at former Governor Mitch Daniels and the Purdue Trustees. The amendment was soundly defeated on a roll call vote. It was a feeble attempt to enact a horrible policy.

I attended a lunch with the Upper Wabash Superintendents on Wednesday. It was a very pleasant meeting, and I was encouraged by the personalities and attitudes. Superintendent Brimbury was accompanied by Principal Hanson, and we had a productive and upbeat conversation. 

Our Ways and Means committee has been able to restore the cuts made to education from the recession by adding an additional $354 million for K-12 education alone, in addition to allocating $300 million in Tuition Reserve. Education funding is priority number one for the Legislature. The budget is currently being debated in the Senate and will continue to take shape following the updated revenue forecast in mid-April.

The legislature grinds on, bills continue to be amended and issues become more difficult. I encourage you to continue to communicate your views.  It is your state government. Participate!

More later,

Bill Friend
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: ngoodwin@iga.in.gov
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