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Friend Report

February 9, 2011

02/10/11 I have some random thoughts after a week of extreme winter weather. Schools, local government and even the legislature had to take time off because the snow and ice made most operations impossible. Because public safety is the most important issue when conditions are bad, most if not all, activities came to a halt.

It is difficult to fully appreciate the men and women who work night and day during these weather events. I hope that all of us can thank everyone who worked to clear the roads, keep the power on and assist those without necessities of life. I wish to say, a big “Thank you” to everyone who gave us great service during this winter storm.

The Super Bowl is now history, and the Green Bay Packers are this year’s champions. As Indiana fans have watched this season unfold, many of us are disappointed that the Colts were not in the final game, but we must be able to appreciate the smallest city in the league being able to win the biggest championship.

Most of the world news this week has focused on Egypt and the revolt going on in that country. It is important to all of us for many reasons. One reason is its financial impact on our energy costs. All of the oil that comes from that part of the world can become scarce and much more expensive. It makes the whole argument about energy a very timely and relevant issue.

Our state has seen the expansion and investment by several companies in the ethanol industry. Ethanol has become a gasoline extender. It is an oxygenator that replaced the old Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether (MTBE) additive that is a polluter and carcinogen. Cities that are classified as non-attainment areas must use an oxygenator to improve air quality. Ethanol is the best additive to accomplish better air quality. Those who criticize ethanol production from corn find themselves in a conundrum. Improve the air by either using a carcinogen (MTBE) or by supporting ethanol production. 

That doesn’t even address the fact that we still have to buy oil from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) nations at their inflated prices. Indiana farmers grow the corn that produces the ethanol. Why wouldn’t we support our friends and neighbors instead of the suppliers of foreign oil?  It must also be noted that the by-products of ethanol production are used to feed the animals we use to feed our people and the world. It is vitally important that we engage ourselves in the whole energy discussion.

The legislature is back in action this week. Last week, the smoking ban passed the House 68-31. The criticism of the bill is all of the exceptions. The bill exempts casinos, bars, fraternal clubs, nursing homes and veterans’ homes. Many are concerned that this is not much of a ban and that it has too many holes to be a complete “ban” because of the exemptions.

There are many major issues before us—education, jobs, the state budget and marriage, just to name a few. I am encouraged by the comments I receive from constituents. More people are engaged by e-mail and letter, and that is a good thing. Please continue to submit your thoughts. It is your government.

More later,

Bill Friend