The General Assembly has now moved into the second half of the legislative session. Bills already approved by their house of origin have crossed over for consideration by the opposite chamber. Of the 831 proposals initially introduced in both chambers, the Senate has begun its review of 104 House-passed bills, while House members consider 135 bills advanced by the Senate.
This brief summary highlights some of the bills now under consideration in the Senate.
Jobs for unemployed Hoosiers – House Bill (HB) 1002 would require companies doing business with the state or local units of government under public works contracts to have 80% of their workforce comprised of Indiana residents. Public works projects include the construction of new buildings for universities and schools, and improvements to the state’s infrastructure including roads and bridges. State appropriations totaling more than $300 million reserved for construction and renovation projects at state universities and colleges is awaiting final approval by the State Budget Committee. If released, the projects could get underway and provide immediate work and jobs in numerous local communities throughout the state.
Texting while driving – Sending a text or e-mail message while driving could become a class C infraction, a finable offense up to $500, under HB 1279. Texting while driving is already prohibited for teen drivers in Indiana.
Energy-efficient buildings – HB 1063 would require certain government buildings to be designed and constructed or renovated to meet the silver rating on the U.S. LEED standards. Green building standards provide long-term savings through reduced water usage, improved energy efficiency, utilization of renewable energy, and use of natural lighting.
Veteran issues – Several bills now under Senate consideration dealing with issues affecting veterans include HB 1111, a bill which would provide a three percent price preference for businesses owned by veterans for purposes of state public works contracts, state purchasing of goods and services, and state highway contracts. In addition, the bill recognizes the efforts of U.S. Merchant Marines who served during World War II and would make them eligible for veteran’s license plates and grant them access to the Indiana Soldiers Home. HB 1165 provides that a veteran’s service connected disability benefit would be protected from judicial lien, process, or proceeding to collect a debt if this bill passes.
Funding grants for adult education – Assistance with the completion of K-12 graduation requirements for high school dropouts is the impetus behind HB 1117. The bill would provide grants to school corporations with stand-alone adult education programs. The grants would come from the state tuition support distribution appropriation that would be set up to allow funding to follow a student who has left a traditional K-12 school and enters an adult education program. Passage of this legislation would encourage those students to complete their high school education.
Worker’s compensation issues – Workers injured on the job or those who experience occupational disease disablements would be able to receive emergency medical assistance by any physician rather than having to wait for the arrival of the doctor specified by the worker’s employer under HB 1116. This legislation would provide faster treatment and prevent some injuries from becoming permanent.
Township government – HB 1181 would require a public question to be placed on the November 2010 general election ballot in each township regarding whether the voters want to retain a township trustee and township board. If a majority of voters choose to eliminate the township trustee and board, the powers and duties would be transferred to the county on January 1, 2012.