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“Friend Report”

February 3, 2011

02/04/11 Indiana State Representative Bill Friend released his “Friend Report” on Thursday morning. 

In his report he states, “There are several bills that are receiving lots of ink that are very hard to predict as successful. There has been much discussion about the statewide smoking ban (House Bill 1018). This bill would ban smoking in all public places except casinos, racinos, bars, fraternal clubs and nursing homes.” 

Friend said, “Some would ask, How is this a smoking ban?  In my opinion, it is more of an “excuse me” policy. I have always thought that a businessman should have the freedom to limit smoking if he desires. It doesn’t take long for the public to make a statement to the business about the acceptance of smoking in the business. If the public objects, they will not patronize the establishment.”  

Rep. Friend continued by stating, “My whole point here is that a law passed to prohibit “something” or “anything” should be all-encompassing.  To allow the exceptions and exclusions simply dilutes the law’s effectiveness.  It becomes a toothless tiger—a law that is unenforceable and weak. Some would say that no legislation is better than weak legislation.” 

Another major issue before our legislators is the unemployment insurance bill (House Bill 1450). The bill addresses the state’s serious problem with the unemployment insurance fund account and the indebtedness incurred with the federal government. Indiana has borrowed $2 billion to pay their unemployment insurance claims and as a state, we have to begin a repayment plan.  

Friend commented, “The bill before us reconfigures the calculations on both the employer and employee in order to implement a program that solves the problem, is fair to both sides and repays the $2 billion debt to the feds. Most of our Democrat colleagues do not care for the bill, but it does address many of the problem areas of UI and offers a balanced solution. It does not please all parties; perhaps it offends all parties. That might make it good legislation.”