Local legislators preparing for 2013 General Assembly - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Local legislators preparing for 2013 General Assembly


The Indiana House and Senate Convene tomorrow.  Last year's session was filled with controversy over Right to Work.  But what can we expect this year?  We spoke with local politicians to find out what bills they're working on and what they say will be the big issues in 2013.

The only thing the legislators must do this year is write a new two year budget.  Senator Carlin Yoder, who represents the 12th district said, "we're gonna have to make some tough decisions this year in regards to spending, where we're gonna put some of this money."  They'll also have to decide on an income tax cut that newly elected Governor Mike Pence has proposed.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson says she has several election related goals for the session.  "Mainly we're focusing on the ease of voters to register to vote and transfer to vote and get the information they need," said Lawson.  She said the "Help America Vote Act" that was passed in 2002 sent money to Indiana to upgrade voter technology, but those federal dollars are now ending.  So Lawson said it'll be her job this session to convince the legislators that Indiana needs to continue voter funding, "so voters can continue with the ease they've become accustomed to."  The ease she refers to is being able to register to vote and do several other tasks online.

Lawson will also be introducing a bill to protect Hoosier investors from the Tim Durham situation.  "He defrauded several investors of their life time earnings and so we don't want that to happen to anybody here in Indiana," said Lawson.

Legislators will consider thousands of other issues.  The economy being a big one.  "Bottom line...it's jobs again, we have to work on providing a mechanism to bring jobs to Indiana," said Representative for the 7th District, David Niezgodski.

Education is also an important matter on the minds of local legislators.  Representative for District 5, Dale DeVon said, "the bottom line is to focus on the kids and get a better graduation rate."  Yoder said, "education wise I'm working on a bill that will address the A-F grading scale for schools."

Local legislators have several other issues they're focused on.  "Basically DCS needs, I don't want to say an overhaul but pretty close to it," said Yoder.  He wants to make changes to DCS to make sure kids are safe and the, "whole process works much better."  Yoder said he is also working on a Farmer's Bill of Rights. 

Niezgodski wants to create more local jobs by helping small businesses, "I'm looking at filing a bill that will provide a mechanism for loans to small businesses that employ 50 employees or less."  He also wants to fix what he calls the "brain drain" in Indiana.  Niezgodski wants to provide a tax credit for teachers, nurses, and social workers who stay in Indiana and work.  He also has a bill that deals with veterans issues and one for the plumbing industry to get plumbers continuing education.

Indiana House Newcomer Dale DeVon is working on a utility bill that he said will help the city of Mishawaka.  But his main focus will be on education, "education is important, probably the most important and it's the biggest percentage of our budget so I think it has to be the biggest item looked at and dealt with," said DeVon.

The 2013 General Assembly Convenes Monday at 1:30 p.m.  Newly elected Governor Mike Pence will be sworn in on January 14th.


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