Rep. Brown discusses impact of new laws
Sunday, June 30, 2013 10:00 PM
As the representative for our community at the Statehouse I worked diligently this past session to help enact legislation that will benefit Hoosiers down the road and across the state.
Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) represents portions of Boone, Montgomery and Tippecanoe counties. Rep. Brown serves as the Chairman of the Ways and Means. Rep. Brown contributed this column to The Paper of Montgomery County for their weekly space in Monday editions devoted to political columnists.
Last session, the General Assembly crafted Indiana's biennial budget, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001. As chairman of the House's Ways and Means Committee I spent much of my time studying the fiscal issues that are facing our state. Through many hours of debate and testimony we were able to pass a budget that I was proud to put my name on. HEA 1001 ensures that Indiana maintains a structural surplus by spending within its means and keeping healthy reserves. Thanks to fiscal responsibility on a state level-at a time when the national government continues to spend recklessly-Indiana was able to increase funding for vital services like education, roads and bridges, public safety and workforce training, all the while providing Hoosiers with the largest tax cut in state history.
Along with the budget, the General Assembly enacted 292 laws last session with the Senate and House each passing 146 bills. Here's a list of a few of the bills that were enacted this session:
HEA 1002 - Creates the Indiana Career Council (ICC) to coordinate the participants in the state's educational, job skills and career training systems to address the "skills gap." The ICC will work to improve coordination, communication and vision for Indiana's workforce training and career preparation systems. This panel will bring the principal stakeholders in the state's workforce development efforts to a single table to create a stronger plan to move Indiana forward.
HEA 1003 - Makes changes to Indiana's School Choice program, giving more students the ability to access a variety of education opportunities. Eligibility requirements have now been expanded to include the siblings of Choice Scholarship recipients and children with disabilities. Additionally, the attendance of a full kindergarten year will now qualify as two semesters in a public school before a student can access the School Choice program.
HEA 1006 -Lays the foundation for a revision of Indiana's criminal code. It provides for certainty in sentencing and keeps the most violent offenders in prison longer. Victims will be fully informed of how long the offender's sentence will actually be, because under 1006 they must serve 3 days to receive one day credit. It also continues a qualified committee to thoroughly study the proposed rewrite of Indiana's entire criminal code.
HEA 1053 - Tightens loopholes in the sex offender registry to make sure the offender reports any change in address or appearance to local authorities. Those who fail to comply with the added information requirements may be charged with a Class D felony as a first time offense or Class C felony if they have a prior offense.
HEA 1486 - Waives the application fee to the Emergency Medical Services Commission if a veteran has already met the requirements. Giving this access to veterans, many of which are veterans of the medical field, will allow the state to properly utilize their skills.
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 319 - Provides property tax relief for farmers by helping them avert a nearly $60 million scheduled increase in property taxes. The legislation reverses changes made last year by the Department of Local Government Finance that would have resulted in an immediate 20 percent increase in property taxes on farmland.
SEA 382 - Creates the Senior Consumer Protection Act, giving the Attorney General a way to protect senior consumers from financial exploitation.
SEA 509 - Gives authorities the ability to investigate human trafficking cases of a child less than 18 years old, and strengthens Indiana's current laws against human trafficking
SEA 582 - Allows for hospitals to have their own police officers to be on the scene immediately if a situation should arise, creating a safer environment for all patients.
I encourage everyone to visit www.in.gov/legislative/index.htm to see a full list of the bills that were passed this session.