INDIANAPOLIS -- July 1 marks the day the majority of the state's new laws go into effect. Citizens can determine which legislators deserve the credit (or the blame) for many of those policies in a new report from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
The organization has released its annual Legislative Vote Analysis, a report detailing the pro-economy, pro-jobs voting records for state lawmakers during the 2011 session.
"Many positive policies were passed to aid working Hoosiers and their families this year. This report lets constituents know if their legislators helped to make this happen or if they tried to block the progress," Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar offers.
State lawmakers representing Putnam County received the following scores:
Rep. Jim Baird (R-District 44) -- 2011 pro-jobs voting: 94 percent; two-year average: 94 percent.
Sen. Richard Bray (R-District 37) -- 2011 pro-jobs voting: 89 percent; two-year average: 88 percent.
Sen. Connie Lawson (R-District 24) -- 2011 pro-jobs voting: 90 percent; two-year average: 89 percent.
All scores and the full report are available at the Indiana Chamber website -- www.indianachamber.com/lva.
"With the multitudes of bills and amendment votes that are included in the Legislative Vote Analysis, it affords legislators plenty of opportunity to demonstrate whether they are with or against Indiana businesses and their employees in their efforts to grow Hoosier jobs," Brinegar adds.
Among the most important pieces of legislation considered: Vital tax reductions to stimulate economic growth and education reforms that increase student potential for academic achievement and eventual workplace success.
Specifically, that includes:
-- Unemployment insurance (UI) reform that will save companies $200 million a year in UI taxes for each of the next 10 years.
-- A corporate income tax rate reduction that has an estimated $80 million in annual savings and the potential to help attract many new businesses to the state.
-- School scholarships that will allow parents to redirect a portion of state dollars assigned to their children's education to the school that best fits their children's needs.
Overall, legislator scores are higher than in recent years. Among Democrats, the trend continued of higher scores among senators than representatives.
"The results are a reflection of Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG, the Chamber's political action committee) and its allies having a successful election and more pro-jobs, pro-economy individuals serving overall and in the leadership of both houses," Brinegar explains.
For 27 years, the Chamber has measured the voting performance of all 150 legislators on bills that reflect the organization's public policy positions. In 2011, the number of votes included jumped to 198, as compared to less than 80 vote totals in each of the past two years.
Bills used in the report were selected based on their significant impact to the state's economic climate and workforce. Lawmakers are kept apprised of the Chamber position and reasoning on these bills through various communications during the legislative session -- and prior to key votes being taken. Only floor votes for which there is a public record are used in the Legislative Vote Analysis.
Legislators who score 70 percent or greater for the most recent two-year voting period are eligible for endorsement by the Chamber's IBRG political action committee.
Copies of the Legislative Vote Analysis report are sent to all legislators and Indiana Chamber board members, and made available online for all businesspersons, community leaders and citizens.