INDIANAPOLIS -- Communities across our state are continuing to dig out from the snowfall of the past week. As I travel U.S. 40 and I-70 to the Indiana Statehouse, I am grateful that I am only an hour away from my home and I have the chance to be close to my constituents on a daily basis.
Many of you already have come to visit. I have met with friends who represent a number of interests, including banking, soil and water conservation, pork producers, the American Cancer Society and higher education. It is always good to see people from our part of the state and talk about the issues that concern my district.
I also have been able to welcome young people who come to Indianapolis to take part in the House Page Program. A number of ambitious students from Putnam, Parke and Clay Counties have visited the Statehouse to experience the workings of state government.
Each time I walk with pages through the House Chamber, it reminds me of my first day as a state representative. The look in their eyes allows me to capture the feeling of honor and respect. We talk about the daily responsibilities of a representative, see the actions of our members on the floor, and tour the Statehouse in order to educate and encourage our young people to become more involved in government.
Committee meetings remain our biggest priority in the House, and the week was full of debate on interesting and important issues.
I am a member of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, which passed a couple of bills that speak directly to our farming communities.
House Bill 1217 updates statutory guidelines for the Indiana Corn Market Development program to meet with its current practices. The Council was created several years ago so corn growers in Indiana could promote their products. Corn growers can voluntarily support the market development and research projects led by the council by contributions of half a cent for each bushel of corn they sell. This bill will help contribute to the program's efficient operation.
House Bill 1218 would increase the allowable level of protection maintained in the Grain Indemnity Fund. The fund, which is paid through voluntary contributions of grain growers, is reserved to ensure a grain producer receives payment for his or her grain in the event of a buyer's financial failure. Former State Rep. Susan Crosby worked closely with her constituents and colleagues in the Statehouse to create this fund and provide financial protection to farm owners.
Because of the tight economy, a grain producer's failure to receive payment could set off a destructive chain reaction. Without proper payment, a grain producer may not have enough capital to pay bills, hindering other segments of agricultural industry.
Both of these bills are designed to keep agriculture industries alive and well while the state faces a mounting economic recession. Agriculture is one of the foundations of Indiana's economy, and we need to provide support to ensure that our farmers can remain stable.
Another bill under consideration (House Bill 1426) seeks to correct a problem in the distribution of CAGIT, COIT and CEDIT dollars and excise tax distributions that are based on the amount of a taxing unit's property tax levies. Upon the creation of Fire Territories, units of government were losing their share of the income tax distribution due to the change in levies. This was an unintended consequence that HB 1426 will correct if it passes by both houses.
As each day passes, I am more impressed with the process of making public policy. I know that some cynics like to compare making a law to making sausage -- you're more interested in the end result than how it was made -- but there is a lot of careful consideration that goes into each measure.
If you need to contact me during session, or if you want to visit the Statehouse, or if you want your child to serve as a Page, you can reach me in several different ways.
You can call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of 1-800-382-9842, write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204, or submit comments to my web site at www.in.gov/H44. While visiting my web site, you also can sign up to receive regular e-mail updates from the Legislature.