Accomplishments made as mid-point of session nears


The legislative session is nearly halfway done, and I am proud of all that has been accomplished to improve our area of the state. I have worked diligently to serve our community and want to take this opportunity to discuss some of what has been accomplished so far.

The first bill I authored to pass out of the House was House Bill (HB) 1362. This bill would benefit Hoosier taxpayers and motorists by extending the amount of time that Indiana is required to reissue license plates. Currently, our license plates must be issued in Indiana every five years which was necessary in maintaining the plate’s quality. With the technology we use today to produce license plates, they are more durable, lasting several years longer and need to be replaced less often as we do now. Extending the life cycle of license plates is an innovative and effective strategy, and if enacted, HB 1361 could save taxpayers around $10 million per year.

As a budget session and member of the Ways and Means Committee, I remain committed to protecting Hoosier taxpayers and working to pass an honestly balanced budget that allows the state to live within its means. I am pleased to be a part of the team tasked with crafting our state’s budget and proud to support the amendment that delivers on the priorities outlined by the House Republicans in October. Those budget priorities include protecting taxpayers, significantly increasing our investment in education and funding our strategic priorities like public safety, while maintaining healthy reserves and a strong structural surplus.

The budget amendment utilizes Indiana’s envious fiscal condition to help fund projects including $36 million for the Southern Indiana Regional Medical Center, benefitting our community and the state. This project will play an essential role in our local healthcare system while impacting economic development in southwest Indiana.

The Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) grant program, legislation I authored, would also be funded through our proposed budget, calling for $13.5 million over the biennium. This program allows groups to apply for grants that aim to reduce Indiana’s infant mortality rate, administered through the Indiana State Department of Health. Preference would be given to groups that address some of the leading factors of infant mortality like smoking during pregnancy or lack of prenatal care.

Another large focus for me, as a professional and business woman, is to increase workforce development. I authored legislation that addresses a situation that has been prematurely ending and sometimes entirely preventing mineral development projects when the mineral rights owner cannot be found while at the same time protecting the owner’s interests. Currently, if a developer of mineral rights, such as oil or natural gas, runs into a tract of land in which the mineral owner cannot be found (the owner of the surface and minerals are most often different individuals), the developer has to attempt to go around that property or entirely cease production. This legislation will help save good paying jobs, as developers will be able to continue their work and not prematurely terminate projects and providing protection for individual’s rights.

This session is flying by, and I am excited that many of the priorities and projects in our proposed budget will benefit southwest Indiana. I look forward to debating this legislation on the House floor as well as discussing Senate legislation as it moves over to our chamber. As always, it has been a privilege to serve our community this session, and I look forward to the rest of the coming months.