The sole senator to attend the Clay County Cracker Barrel Saturday, Richard Bray, District 37, indicated a period of change is on the horizon for the state of Indiana.
"The new governor has a lot of energy, a lot of ideas," he told the crowd of approximately 70 local residents at the public meeting.
Troubled by the lack of high-tech industry, Bray said the state relies too heavily on steel production, an area in trouble when it comes to moving Indiana into the future.
"If it wasn't for the medical industry, we wouldn't have anything we could call high tech," he said. "We haven't adjusted very well to these changes. I think it's going to be interesting. We can't fund anything we want adequately."
Sentencing laws are also an issue worthy of further contemplation, and a DNA log could be useful, but budgetary constraints have prevented progress in that realm. While a DNA log is relevant to repeat offenders, it would also be useful for innocent persons.
"It cuts both ways," he said.
Meanwhile, state farms like Putnamville Correctional Facility possess large amounts of unused land and residential facilities unnecessary to regular operations. The extensive amount of acreage could go to more productive use.
"It's been a long time since the state had a cow down there," he said.
Another area of interest for Bray is the Medicaid program.
"We are one of the more liberal states. It's essential. You have to have it," he said. "There are some people with no other options whatsoever."
The distribution of highway funds also must change in order for additional dollars to filter down to Clay County, he said, and District 44 Rep. Andrew Thomas, who has been drafting legislation on the issue, nodded in agreement.
Bray also addressed the first audience question, posed by Ray Chenoweth, regarding raising state speed limits and the associated cost of new signage. State-level discussion has dealt with a 5-mph increase.
"I don't think -- and my wife and I disagree on this too -- I don't think traffic will go any faster."
Cracker Barrel organizers also extended an invitation to participate in the public meeting to Sen. John Waterman who was not present.