FROM THE DESK OF SENATOR LONG

Many feel daylight-saving time and the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and new stadium dominated the 2005 legislative session, but the General Assembly passed many initiatives that will be beneficial to citizens across Indiana. We addressed issues such as election reform, National Guard benefits, child protection laws, agriculture, and improving health care services. The following are just a few examples of this year’s accomplishments:

Elections—We worked hard this session to give voters confidence that our elections will be fair, open and honest. A bill passed that tightens restrictions on obtaining an absentee ballot. The bill does not make registering to vote more difficult; it simply creates new safeguards to protect the rights of honest absentee voters. We also passed legislation that will require voters to show a picture ID issued by the state or federal government (such as a driver’s license or state ID card). Without proof of identification, it is easy for fraudulent voters to use different names at different times on Election Day. Considering recent nationwide voting problems, and some within Indiana, this is a common-sense step to help prevent fraud.

National Guard Benefits—Our National Guard members are serving overseas in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and several other countries. Because of the huge sacrifice these men and women are making on our behalf, we passed a measure that exempts spouses and children of Guard members killed in the line of state active duty from paying tuition at any state educational institution. This bill was authored to help support those dependents and spouses who endure financial difficulties after losing a loved one in state active duty.

Child Protection— The General Assembly also passed legislation aimed at protecting Hoosier children. Two bills in particular will enhance the effectiveness of our sex offender and violent offender registry. The bills add the possession of child pornography to the 14 existing offenses and also allow neighborhood associations to receive the semi-annual updates of the list. We also created the Department of Child Services to handle child support, child protection, adoption and foster services. Our children are our most precious commodity, and should receive special attention from the state. This new department will focus only on children and their families.

Agriculture—Indiana is one of the nation’s top agriculture states. This session, we created the Indiana Department of Agriculture and consolidated duties that were once scattered across numerous agencies. The move costs Indiana taxpayers no additional money. In fact, we hope it actually saves money by merging the 10 separate agriculture boards and commissions into one large department. We also passed legislation that will encourage the use of our soybean and corn crops in the production of alternative fuels.

Health Care—We passed a bill that creates a panel of experts to develop a medical information system for Indiana. A medical information system would connect physicians’ offices, pharmacies, laboratories, imaging centers, hospitals and other medical facilities. If a person became ill in another part of the state, a physician with proper authorization could have immediate access to the person’s medications, medical history and lab and X-ray reports. That patient then would receive better, more personalized care. The panel must create a plan that will maintain privacy.

This year’s session has been an eventful one, full of activity. Although the session’s end has come, my job as your senator is never finished and I am available year round to assist you. Please feel free to contact me at anytime by e-mail at S16@ai.org or call my Statehouse office at 1-800-382-9841.

The Waynedale News Staff

Sen. David Long

Our in-house staff works with community members and our local writers to find, write and edit the latest and most interesting news-worthy stories. We are your free community newspaper, boasting positive, family friendly and unique news. > Read More Information About Us > More Articles Written By Our Staff