INDIANAPOLIS -- As we head into the final days of the 2010 session of the Indiana General Assembly, lawmakers will work together to pass legislation to improve the employment environment in Indiana.
Reaching a final decision on this legislation will be the primary objective as we near the end of this session. We do expect to be finished before our mandatory March 14 deadline.
In recent days, House members have approved initiatives that will create jobs, help Indiana's small businesses and raise the bar on corporate accountability and responsibility.
I have mentioned the need to put a greater emphasis on assisting Indiana's small businesses, which employ 1.3 million Hoosiers. The following is a list of provisions included within the House jobs' plan:
First, a job creation tax credit to spur small business owners to hire the unemployed. Small businesses are the engine of our economy and are responsible for 80 percent of all new jobs. By allowing a credit of $3,000 for each employee hired above a company's 2009 base employment, we hope to give businesses with fewer than 150 workers the chance to hire new employees, with an eye toward hiring unemployed Hoosiers and veterans.
Secondly, the creation of a state ombudsman to help owners navigate their way through government regulations and provide greater access to EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) credits and low-interest loans.
This is a small business-friendly proposal that will help our small business community.
We also propose an effort to refocus Indiana Economic Development Corporation by ensuring that the state's unemployed are given first consideration.
A new employer tax credit has been proposed to place a priority on a county where unemployment is high due to a recent closure or a reduction in its workforce.
Whenever an incentive package is developed, this bill will help attract business opportunities in these targeted areas.
The House plan also calls for Indiana to join 21 other states in establishing a program -- to be called Helping Indiana Restart Employment (HIRE) -- that will use $100 million in one-time federal stimulus funding to provide incentives to private and public employers to hire dislocated Hoosiers for good-paying jobs.
It is anticipated that the utilization of this program would put nearly 10,000 Hoosiers back to work making $40,000 to $50,000 per year.
Finally, we want to make sure companies that rely upon tax breaks financed by Indiana taxpayers live up to their end of the bargain.
If these companies do not fulfill promises to create jobs, the state gains the ability to "clawback" the incentives paid for by you and me.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle realize that something has to be done. All of these provisions passed with strong, bipartisan support.
This bipartisan job creation plan will now be studied in House-Senate conference committees, where legislators from both chambers will attempt to reach final agreements on all issues that remain unresolved this session.
As the week unfolds there will be talk about education, child support, unemployment compensation, renewable energy, vote centers, government reform, net metering and many other subjects, but the one issue that will define the success of the 2010 session of the Indiana General Assembly is our efforts towards helping people get back to work and to find ways to strengthen our economy.
In these final days of the 2010 session, you can contact me in several ways.
Call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of (800) 382-9842, write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204, or send a message 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.