On the opening day of the General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session, I gathered with members of the Senate Republican Caucus to unveil our legislative agenda.
The ideas included in our agenda would positively impact Hoosiers in a variety of ways, including improved road infrastructure, regional economic development, stronger penalties for illegal drug dealers and support for our schools, veterans and farmers.
Here’s a look at some of the top items being advanced by Senate Republicans this year:
-Funding Our Local Roads – Senate Bill 67, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), would provide $418 million to local governments for improvements to local roads and bridges.
-Supporting Economic Development – Senate Bill 302, authored by Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), would fully fund a third Regional Cities economic development project using revenues from the state’s 2015 tax amnesty program. With the bill, Northeast Indiana, North Central Indiana and Southwest Indiana would each receive $42 million for long-term, high-impact economic development projects.
-Fairness in School Accountability, Teacher Pay – Senate Bill 200, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), would prevent 2015 school A-F grades from dropping in response to ISTEP problems. Companion legislation in the House (House Bill 1003) would remove ISTEP scores and A-F grades from teacher evaluations for one year.
-Stopping Drug Dealers – Senate Bill 290, authored by Sen. R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis), would allow courts to convict people caught with large amounts of drugs as dealers, not just users. Companion legislation in the House would establish mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers.
-Supporting Hoosier Veterans – Senate Bill 295, authored by Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City), and Senate Bill 309, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), would allow a veteran who served on active-duty during any armed conflict to be eligible for financial assistance from the Military Family Relief Fund (MFRF) and add a box to Indiana tax returns allowing Hoosiers to donate a portion of their tax refund to the MFRF.
-Property Tax Relief for Farmers – Senate Bill 308, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), would limit spikes in farmers’ tax bills by changing the formula for farmland property-tax assessment and permanently halting an increase in soil productivity factors.
-Senate Bill 152: Medical Malpractice Reform – Senate Bill 152, authored by Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford), would make the medical malpractice award system more patient-friendly by raising the award caps for medical malpractice cases, indexing the caps to inflation and raising the dollar-limit cap for small malpractice claims to bypass the Medical Review Board and go straight to court.
By keeping Hoosiers at the forefront of our decision making, we are hopeful for a productive and impactful session. As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas concerning these and other topics. My office can be reached at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
In addition, I would like to thank those in Senate District 16 who have already completed my 2016 legislative survey. I truly value your input, as it helps me shape my approach to the issues discussed during session.
If you haven’t had a chance to complete the survey, there’s still time to complete the online version by visiting www.IndianaSenateRepublicans.com/Long. There are a number of issues we will soon be voting on, so please return your survey responses no later than January 31.
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