Indiana’s part-time state legislature, unlike the U.S. Congress, allows representatives and senators to spend the majority of the calendar year in their districts. This allows legislators to maintain a closer connection with their constituents and better serve their communities.
During the period in between legislative sessions the General Assembly selects several policy topics for further review to help support the development of future legislation. These topics are usually complex and require input from experts, stakeholders and, most importantly, the public.
The following are just a few topics that will be studied by the General Assembly in the coming months:
·The FIRSST (Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow) task force will review state and local road and bridge needs and develop a long-term funding plan for Indiana’s infrastructure in conjunction with the upcoming state budget-writing process.
· The ISTEP review panel will make recommendations for replacing ISTEP to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 1, 2016. Indiana needs a shorter, simpler, fairer statewide test that more accurately measures student growth.
· Like many states, Indiana is facing a scourge of drug abuse and opioid addiction that has the potential to devastate communities and families. This wide-ranging problem will be studied, with a focus on the availability of treatment and recovery options in Indiana.
· A multi-year review of all tax incentives in Indiana is currently underway, led by the Legislative Services Agency. This review will continue this summer and fall, examining the equity, simplicity, size, scope and impact of each incentive to ensure that the intended policy goals are being achieved. Any resulting legislation from this review will help make Indiana’s tax code simpler and fairer for Hoosiers.
· Keeping Hoosier kids safe remains a top priority. Legislators will be looking at ways to prevent the occurrence of school sexual misconduct. A study committee will also examine equipping school buses with seat belts or lap and shoulder safety belts.
· In the 2015 legislative session, a sweeping annexation reform law was passed, bolstering property-owner rights and making the legal process fairer for all Hoosiers. However, as local residents in our area know, annexation issues across the state still arise. Legislators will be taking a look at the effects of the recent changes to annexation laws to help determine whether further reform is needed.
These interim study committees will allow the legislature to comprehensively examine important issues for Hoosiers before proposing new laws in the 2017 session.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas on these and other issues. My office can be reached at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov
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