(BEDFORD) – The Bedford Chamber of Commerce hosted the “Breakfast with your Legislature” this morning, at the Bedford Chamber of Commerce building.
The public was able to bring their concerns regarding pending legislation to District 44 Indiana Senator Eric Koch, District 65 Representative Chris May, and District 73 Representative Steve Davisson.
Each of the lawmakers was able to provide updates on the bills going through the Indiana House, and Senate. The attendees were able to also go up to them personally and talk with them privately about their issue or concerns.
Senator Eric Koch
Senator Eric Koch talks about legislative issues this morning.
We are halfway through the second half of the legislative session. Several of those bills with local interest are already going to the governor’s desk for signing. I am happy that a lot of my bills have already been passed and I think by the end of the session many more will get through. This year is a budget year, every two years we must pass a budget.
Probably, not much will happen with that until we get the Budget Projection on revenues sometime in mid-April. Then, the budget will probably be the last thing that is passed.
Representative Steve Davisson
Ruth Valentine ask State Representative Steve Davisson a question
Davisson is working to get a few things finished up in this session.
He has been actively involved with Senate Bill 335 which deals with extra territory legislation. The bill deals with when local governments put in ordinances of 2 miles, 4 miles, and in some cases 10-mile buffer zones in Zoning Ordinances.
The Indiana Farm Bureau Association has been actively involved in weighing in on this legislation.
Rep. Davisson writes down information on a concern.
Davisson also has been working on is Senate Bill 33. This bill will establish three addiction and recovery centers in the state. One of the many concerns in the state they are several programs and services throughout the state. However, the program or service may only cover addiction and not deal with recovery or vice versa. With these regional centers, they will deal with both recovery and addiction issues at one location.
A Senate Bill that Davisson helped with a Workforce Recovery Bill to help those with addiction issues get employment.
Senate Bill 176 he also was part of is requiring all Controlled Substances to be electronically prescribed by 2021.
Representative Chris May
Representative May has been working on some bills that provide mental health into the schools that address some of the emotional needs of students in schools.
Then, he provided details in the upcoming budget stating that between Public Education and higher education that over 62 percent of the state’s budget does go to education. With only 15 percent of the budget going to Medicaid, Corrections – 4 percent, and Public Safety – 2 percent.
Not everyone gets what they want, but we try to address their needs as good as we can.
State Representative Chris May listens to concerns from Lawrence County Highway Superintendent David Holmes
And May pointed out that they were able to provide the Department of Children Services with more funding. Providing pay increases to the overworked staff. May says now that the funding issue was addressed we are working with the agency in changing the Policy and Procedures of the Department. The agency will not have the retention issue it was having, with better salaries and wages given to its employees.
Public Questions and Answers:
Paula Stewart – I just want to thank everyone for their hard work on Senate Bill 171 that helped with the language in regards to the Mobile Tax Law. It cleaned, up a lot of things for us. Stewart then wanted to say, as a member of the Farm Bureau Association and Association of Indiana Counties I appreciate you working on this legislation involving Senate Bill 335. You do not have to go to Indianapolis to get involved, you can follow legislation right from your home. And even follow the sessions going on live.
Howard Scott – Asked with all the drug addiction issues is the 4 percent going to Corrections, and only 2 percent going to public safety is that really enough Davisson replied I wish there was more but we are funding the best we can. One of those things is dealing with paying the County Sheriff’s more to deal with them being underfunded. They only receive $35 a day, what we are trying to do is, provide $37.50 first year, and up to $40.00 the next year.
Erin Stennet – From Hoosier Uplands addressed the lawmakers, on issues they are having with Southeast Transit. All of the local lawmakers were aware of the many issues that are going on with the company. Stennet told the lawmakers many of the patients are not getting to dialysis and doctor’s appointments.
Director of Business and Community Development at City of Bedford Marla Jones and Rep. Davisson discuss housing legislation bill and its effect on local government.
The Governor’s office has also been involved with the issue, however, Stennet commented that the Governor’s office, usually is not very responsive in dealing with the issue. And patients need life-saving treatment, or they could die. The lawmakers stated that they were not aware of some of the changes after the fact, and now we are being contacted by many from the public on this issue.
We are trying to set some performance standards passed down, and benchmarks that they will need to meet.
Lawrence County Sheriff Branham and many others complimented the lawmakers on their accessibility in responding to the concerns and needs. And one thanking them that they do not hear about partisan politics preventing in getting things done. Honestly, sometimes even in our own party, we have a difference of opinion that sometimes even makes things more difficult than the other party.
Public Weigh in:
Each lawmaker got a sampling on how the public felt on an issue. The attendees were given a sign that had Green – meaning YES, or Red meaning NO whenever the question was asked. Rep. Chris May- Using data from local school corporations asked whether the State should take over the Setting Teachers Salary. On this question, all but two people voted yes on this question.
The result was an overwhelming NO.
Average Teacher Salaries from area Schools
- North Lawrence Community Schools average teacher salary – $45,500
- Seymour Community Schools average teacher salary – $58,200
- Brownstown Community Schools average teacher salary – $60,600
- Mitchell Community Schools average teacher salary- $50,300
- Monroe County Community Schools average salary- $53,900
Rep. Steve Davisson- Hate Crimes Bill- The bill states that everyone is covered, versus a listing of a protected class of people. In asking whether the bill should include everybody, today’s attendees with a large majority voted yes.
Sen. Koch- Should cursive writing be a part of the school curriculum – Yes from the attendees.