By SKIP BROWN
INDIANAPOLIS ― Members of the Indiana Senate Republican Caucus announced their legislative agenda today, Tuesday, Jan. 5, as they met at the Statehouse for the start of the General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) said Senate Republicans will advance a host of issues aimed at helping Hoosiers across the state.
“This will be a short session, but I expect it to be a productive one,” Long said. “The ideas included in our legislative agenda will positively impact Hoosiers in a variety of ways, including improved road infrastructure, regional economic development, stronger penalties for illegal drug dealers and support for our schools, veterans and farmers.” Long was joined in the Senate Chamber by members of the Senate Republican Caucus to unveil the caucus’s 2016 agenda.
- Funding Our Local Roads (Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek): Provide $418 million to local governments for improvements to local roads and bridges.
- Supporting Economic Development (Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville): Fully fund a third Regional Cities project using revenues from the 2015 tax amnesty program. With the bill, Northeast Indiana, North Central Indiana and Southwest Indiana would each receive $42 million for long-term, high-impact economic development projects.
- Fairness in School Accountability, Teacher Pay (Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn): Prevent 2015 school A-F grades from dropping in response to ISTEP problems. Support companion legislation in the House to remove ISTEP scores and A-F grades from teacher evaluations for one year.
- Stopping Drug Dealers (Sen. R. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis): Allow courts to convict people caught with large amounts of drugs as dealers, not just users. Companion legislation in the House would establish mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers.
- Supporting Hoosier Veterans (Sens. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City and Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek): Allow a veteran who served on active-duty during any armed conflict to be eligible for financial assistance from the Military Family Relief Fund and add a box to Indiana tax returns allowing Hoosiers to donate a portion of their tax refund to the MFRF.
- Property Tax Relief for Farmers (Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek): Change the formula for farmland property-tax assessment to limit increases in the per-acre base rate and permanently halt an increase in soil productivity factors.
- Medical Malpractice Reform (Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford): Make the medical malpractice award system more patient-friendly by raising the award caps for medical malpractice cases, indexing the caps to inflation and raising the dollar-limit cap for small malpractice claims to bypass the Medical Review Board and go straight to court.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An update will be sent once all bills are formally filed and assigned bill numbers. Updates will also be posted at Indiana Senate Republicans.
The 2016 session of the General Assembly convened today and, by law, must end no later than March 14.