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Monday, May 2, 2016

Several topics discussed at Cracker Barrel

Monday, February 20, 2012

(Photo)
State Representative Clyde Kersey (middle) talks with those in attendance at a Cracker Barrel, which took place Saturday in Bowling Green. Kersey, along with Rep. Bob Heaton (right) and Rep. Jim Baird (left), provided legislative updates to area residents. [Order this photo]
BOWLING GREEN -- At the Cracker Barrel Saturday in Bowling Green, State Representatives gave those in attendance a legislative update.

On hand to give updates and answer questions was, Rep. Bob Heaton (Republican, District 46), Rep. Jim Baird (Republican, District 44) and Rep. Clyde Kersey (Democrat, District 43).

Heaton said it's been "kind of quiet" at the Statehouse, and a lot of the first half of the session dealt with right-to-work, which passed two-and-a-half weeks ago and will go into law at midnight on March 14.

"But right now, you've got the first half of the session, the House bills are over in the Senate and the Senate bills are over in the House right now," Heaton said.

Heaton explained sometimes when representatives are asked about certain bills they may not know about them because they haven't seen it in committee or on the floor yet, or because amendments have changed the bill since the first filing.

"I've got a House Bill 1294 that went through the hearing in the House. It got through the House; it was unanimous, but it dealt with Registered Representatives, people who sell mutual funds.

"This bill basically says that if that person is late on their child support, then they're going to be delayed on getting their license (to sell mutual funds or equity products) until they pay their child support back in full, and there's another part of that bill that deals with insider trading."

Heaton said the insider-trading portion of the bill deals with whistle blowers and how much compensation the whistle blower who "rats" on the person doing insider trading gets.

"That is a bill that just got out of the Senate Hearing Committee this past Thursday, (it was) again unanimous, but it's going to go to the Senate floor this coming week, and hopefully that (will) be law," Heaton said. "As far as the different house bills that were filed, there was (around) 397 and on the Senate side there was (around) 415 bills.

"Even though you have a total of 800 and some bills filed total, there may be 100 or 200 or less bills that become law. As I told people, you could have the best bill in the world and it goes through the house and it gets over to the Senate and it doesn't even get a hearing, it's gone, it's done until next year.

"Right or wrong that's just the way it is, and vice-versa. We had a bill that went through the house and it dealt with drug testing. We sent that survey out, and 80 percent of my constituents said that for random drug testing for people that are receiving welfare benefits, those 80 percent feels like that's OK, they don't have a problem with that, and 20 percent of the people didn't like that. That went through the House, got into the Senate this past week, and in the Senate it didn't get out of the Senate hearing committee because it was a 5-5 vote.

"It was three Democrats and two Republicans that voted against it and five Republicans that voted for it, so it basically just died in there. There were some questions about it because those people are poor and they have kids and you deny them that welfare check, well that young child may not get to eat, so there's some issues on both sides of the aisle there."

Kersey talked in detail about some of the specific bills.

"I want to talk a little bit about some of the bills that are coming down and some of the bills that have already come down," Kersey said. "There was a lot of opposition to a lot of bills in this session of legislature, I've been here 16 years, and there was more opposition of bills this time than I have ever witnessed in the time that I've been there.

"Of course the House Bill 1001, the Right-to-Work bill brought a lot of workers out, laborers out, Union people out in opposition of that bill, but there were others."

Kersey said House Bill 1006, which dealt with eliminating licensing for cosmetology, barbers, beauticians and dieticians, was hotly contested and ended up getting pulled.

In Kersey's opinion, the people who came out to oppose the bill was the reason it was pulled.

"House bill 1367 was another bill that bothered me a lot, it came through the education committee," Kersey said. "... (It would) move the research center from the School of the Deaf in Indianapolis to a private company to do the assessment for students' needs. This brought out a huge number of people from that school ... there was a lot of opposition to that bill.

"That bill passed out of the house committee ... I voted against it. It went to the House, there was a lot of opposition in the House, on second reading and on the third, and it passed. It was in the Senate, I think the Senate Education Committee on Thursday when we were there, but that's a troublesome bill."

Kersey said there were other bills that he had problems with.

"One of them is House Bill 1376, this was the bill that dealt with the money that Governor Daniels found," Kersey said. "He found $328 million that somehow had not been part of any accounting for the last seven years or so, and so what are we going to do with the $328 million (was the question being asked)?

"My position was that (when) we cut public education $600 million over a two-year period, and I felt that we should put that $328 million back into public education. Because when we took that $328 million from public education, teachers were laid off, programs were cut, class size increased and students' scores on the ISTEP went down, and as a result of that more and more schools were ... put on probation and were subject to being taken over. My position was we (should) put all that money back into public education, but that was not the case."

According to Kersey, House Bill 1376 puts $50 million into the teachers' pension stabilization fund, $10 million to the State Fair accident victims, $80 million to full day kindergarten and then about $200 million is going to be returned to Indiana tax payers, at $50 apiece in the terms of tax credits.

Baird also highlighted a few bills that interested him.

"One of the things I was interested in during this session was the fact that the committee on government reduction they have eliminated 22 unnecessary, outdated, or duplicative boards, commissions and committees and it reduces the number of gubernatorial and legislative appointments by at least 260, and I think that's a good thing, that they're reviewing that at least and taking a look at those kind of things and if it's unnecessary ... to eliminate those ... I think that's good thing for all of us to be doing at all levels of government, to become more efficient."

Baird also touched on House Bill 1005, which deals with conflict of interest and nepotism.

The bill states that relatives in a county, city, town or township may not be employed in a position that results in one relative being under the direct supervision of another relative.

Next, Baird talked about House Bill 1059, which is the Military Family Relief Fund.

"(It) extends from one year to three years for deployed soldiers, combat soldiers to be eligible for a $5,000 grant per year," Baird said. "That to me is a way to help those soldiers transition back into civilian life, (and) it is self-funded."

Baird said it is funded through the sale of "Support Our Troops" license plates.



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