Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pay attention to the Statehouse

Posted on Jan. 27, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Between them, Elkhart County’s three senators proposed 45 bills in the Indiana General Assembly that opened Jan. 7. They cover everything from college tuition rates for undocumented immigrants to mandatory DNA testing for felony suspects.

Our five state representatives filed another 62 proposals. One rep wants to keep the United Nations out of Indiana. Another seeks to redefine the skeletal characteristics of wild hogs.

Clearly, it’s time to start paying attention to the Legislature.

Sen. Carlin Yoder, a Middlebury Republican, authored or co-authored 23 bills. S.B. 179 would expand the definition of an abortion clinic to include entities that provide drugs to induce abortions. S.B. 207 would rescind part of a 2011 law raising tuition rates for undocumented immigrants attending Indiana public colleges.

Sen. Joe Zakas, a Granger Republican, tossed in another 13 bills. S.B. 2 would require every suspect arrested on felony charges after June 30, 2013, to provide a DNA sample for a state database. Ryan Mishler, a Republican senator from Bremen, brought the total to 37 with four minor proposals of his own.

In the House, Elkhart Republican Tim Neese authored H.B. 1021 to prohibit implementation of United Nations Agenda 21 — one of his 11 proposals. Rep. David Ober, an Albion Republican, wrote H.B. 1075 to invalidate the piece of administrative code defining a wild hog “as having skeletal characteristics indicative of a hog of wild or Eurasian origin.” Albion filed a total of 16 bills, one behind Syracuse Republican Rebecca Kubacki. Lakeville Republican Tim Wesco matched Neese with 11 proposals, while Wes Culver, a Goshen Republican, brings up the rear with seven.

Truth reporter Tim Vandenack summarized the bills filed by Elkhart County lawmakers in a pair of blogs over the last two weeks. He reviewed the House proposals Jan. 17 and Senate initiatives Thursday.

State lawmakers must complete the state’s next two budgets during the session that ends April 29. They’re dealing with a state unemployment rate higher than the rest of the nation’s (8.2 percent vs. 7.8 percent nationally), calls to substantially increase education funding and a new governor — Mike Pence — who wants a 10 percent income tax cut. They don’t have time to waste.

We’ve argued that when more than 9 percent of Elkhart County remains out of work, debating a nonbinding 1992 U.N. initiative makes no sense. Whether or not the General Assembly should devote significant time to discussion of renewal fees for dental hygienists (Mishler, S.B. 590) or the skeletal structure of wild hogs is something that you must decide.

You can speak with your lawmakers at the Third House meetings, which started Saturday. You can write, call or email the legislators who represent you in Indianapolis.

But it’s time to start paying attention to the Statehouse. Without your direction, it would be too easy for lawmakers to forget what’s vital back home in Elkhart County — increased education funding, certainly. But above all else, jobs.

Indiana House of Representatives

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786

(317) 232-9600

(800) 382-9842

Indiana State Senate

200 W. Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2785

(317) 232-9400

(800) 382-9467

For more information on the General Assembly, visit