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April 14, 2011

04/15/11 Weekends just fly by when the House of Representatives stays in session through Friday.  Other needed activities such as going to the bank, cleaners, grocery, tax man, and trying to get a haircut tend to fill up the remaining few hours of my week. I did a few farm chores and visited with some constituents before finally getting to spend some time with my grandchildren on Saturday evening.

One of the constituents I visited was a teacher, and she was very concerned with educational reform, especially SB 575 regarding collective bargaining for teachers.  Her original e-mail was very critical of the system and my part in it.  I felt I needed to knock on her door and have a conversation.  That is what I did, and we each have a better understanding of our current situation.  She is worried about the erosion of teachers’ rights and working conditions.  I can respect that position. 

My intention is that the proposed changes will improve the conditions for teacher’s district-by-district.  I’m sure there will be exceptions to an improved situation, but overall, SB 575 can make for a better bargaining environment.  I assured this teacher, who I have known since she was a child, that I would never do anything that would intentionally harm her or her co-workers.  My first rule for this position is, “Do no harm.”  We will be amending and debating SB 575 this week, and I am sure that amendments will be offered to improve it.  I will report later on its final form.

HB 1244 is legislation I passed through the House, and it is being considered in Senate Appropriations.  Some of the senators are seeking to amend my bill that deals with tax sale properties and county treasurers.  It allows them to set up a payment plan for property owners to pay their taxes and stay in their homes.  It also allows the county to stay out of the real estate business.  This is a “may” provision and does not mandate any action by the treasurer.  It does offer one more tool to help taxpayers and provide some cash flow for the county and taxing units.  The Senate may attach language that puts limits on the redevelopment commission as they seek to enhance areas in their counties. 

I have some decisions to make on advancing HB 1244.  Mayors, economic development directors, council members and others are very negative on the amendment.  The economic development community feels that the amendment will hamstring communities as they attempt to improve themselves.  I know that the amendment is aimed at Central Indiana, and I don’t want to damage the abilities of smaller counties to make advancements.

For those of you who care and have commented on this issue, the General Assembly has passed a bill that only requires ID for alcohol purchases when the customer appears under the age of 40.  I have been amazed at the number of complaints I have received over the current carding law.  The retailers simply carded everyone, white-haired, wrinkled and obviously older than 21.  My older folks have been very vocal about their unhappiness with this law.  Perhaps common sense does need to apply.

I will conclude this column with this observation:  SB 433 dealing with various environment issues did something I consider extremely timely and important.  The bill changes the term wastewater throughout the Indiana code to the term septage.  I don’t know why this is necessary, but it may cut down on paper and ink for the code.  There are three fewer letters in septage, so printing requirements will be curtailed.  My guess is that septage will still smell like wastewater.  So, try to work the word septage into your everyday vocabulary.  It may not help much, but you will sound a lot smarter! 

Thanks for your communications.  I’ll try to respond to them all.  Remember – septage. 

More later,

Bill Friend


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