Waynedale Political Commentaries

HALFTIME AT THE SENATE – Straight From The Senate

The Indiana General Assembly’s 2015 legislative session has officially reached its halfway point. At this time, all bills that have passed the Senate will move to the House of Representatives where they may be assigned to a committee for further consideration. The same will happen to bills that come over to the Senate from the House.
This session, the Senate has taken significant steps to support education in Indiana, which has included the passage of several noteworthy bills.

Senate Bill 1 seeks to improve the effectiveness of the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) to better serve Hoosier students. As it passed the Senate, SB 1 would reduce the size of the board to nine members and balance the appointments to the board between the governor and the legislature. It requires at least four of the board members to be public school educators and allows the members to choose their own chair, hire their own independent staff, and get assistance from the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency when needed.

The unprecedented dysfunction we’ve seen on the board in the past two years is unacceptable. This legislation is an effort to get the board back on track, which is in the best interest of everyone in our state.

Senate Bill 566 aims to reward Indiana’s best educators and streamline student testing by replacing ISTEP+ and I-READ with one testing product. Indiana is already in the process of replacing the current ISTEP+ with a new statewide test that would align with our academic standards. SB 566 would make this switch easier by streamlining Indiana’s testing system. This bill would also make more teachers eligible for School Performance Grant bonuses and would allow local school boards to make up to half of these bonuses part of teachers’ permanent salaries.

Another primary focus this session is the biennial budget, House Bill 1001, which will now be considered by the Senate. We are committed to passing a fiscally responsible, taxpayer-friendly budget.

Our Balanced Budget Amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 19, would help ensure Indiana remains a national leader in fiscal responsibility and transparency, which is key to economic success. Hoosiers benefit from a low-tax, stable spending environment, which provides financial certainty to employers looking to move to Indiana or expand their operations here.

SJR 19 would prohibit state spending from exceeding state revenue. In the event of an emergency, this limitation could be suspended if approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly. If SJR 19 is passed by the legislature this year, it will have to pass the legislature again in 2017 or 2018, and then pass a voter referendum during the 2018 general election to become part of Indiana’s constitution.

This is an important time to voice your opinions and let your representatives at the Statehouse know your priorities. You can contact me with your input and questions at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov or 800-382-9467.

David Long - IN Dist. 16 Senator

David is a former Republican member of the Indiana State Senate representing the 16th district which encompasses Waynedale. He served as the President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate. David writes the "Straight From The Senate" column for the newspaper. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer