Pharos-Tribune

January 19, 2014

FRIEND: 2014 legislative session underway


Pharos-Tribune

---- — It’s a new year with many new opportuni-ties and a new legislative session with many new issues! I want to share some random thoughts on a variety of subjects. Much has occurred since I last wrote to you, and we have things to discuss. Through this session, I will write columns to keep our community up to date on all of the legislative happenings that are going on in Indianapolis.

Most recently, the weather has been foremost on everyone’s mind. The blizzard and dangerous temperatures put everyone at risk if they had to be outside. Roads were impassable, schools closed all week and businesses closed for a day or two until conditions improved. It is always impressive how neighbors help each other. I think it speaks volumes about the character of a community when neighbors check on and assist each other. It is Biblical, “love thy neighbor as yourself.” Watching it happen is fantastic.

Priorities for this short session include:

1. Early childhood education. A program that will focus on low-income, urban children, hoping to give them a better start.

2. Skills gap. Improving education opportunities for vocational and technical skills. Many employers have jobs to fill but can’t find skilled people to employ.

3. Road construction and maintenance. Continuing to improve infrastructure and create jobs.

4. Fair business taxation. Continue to be pro-business and tax-friendly state.

5. Eliminate some burdensome regulations. Repeal outdated laws and regulations.

Much of the attention of this session will focus on HJR-3, the marriage amendment, but many of these priorities will also be addressed.

Some have asked me why this is a “short” session. In odd numbered years, a two-year state budget must be produced. It requires more time, and session must adjourn by April 29. In even numbered years, sessions are to address financial and administrative emergencies and must adjourn by March 14. In truth, many complex issues are squeezed into a short session.

A few weeks ago, one of our regular breakfast club members at Bullshippers Café, Courtney Justice, passed away. Courtney was a longtime and well-known attorney in Logansport and Delphi. I did not know him for a long time, but I found him to be very engaging and conversational. He was a great advocate for his alma mater, Wabash College. I was most impressed that he did not let physical impairment keep him from being active and involved. He is and will be missed!

Last winter, we had all kinds of problems with the old, oil furnace. Our now famous furnace man, Burkie, installed a new LP gas unit this summer, and it has worked wonderfully to heat our old farm house. What a relief to not worry about the heat!

No occasional column would be complete without a Buddy report. Buddy, our three-legged golden retriever, is doing just fine. He seems a little slower, but he is approaching 10 years old. We have him sleep in the garage when it is as cold as it has been, but he always wants to be running around outside.

Stay in touch during this short session – it moves fast. It is your government, so stay involved.

Bill Friend is a Republican representing District 23 in the Indiana House of Representatives. You can reach him at 317-232-9831.