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November 23, 2011

11/23/11 We returned to the Statehouse this week to prepare for the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Organization Day is usually a ceremonial time for lawmakers. We hear a few speeches, file bills, and start to gear up for the start of session in earnest on January 4.

This will be the short session of the Legislature, which means we must be done by the middle of March. Along the way, there will be this little event called the Super Bowl taking place in downtown Indianapolis in early February.

Even without the Super Bowl, 2012 already was shaping up to be a hectic time for lawmakers.

A short session is designed for the Legislature to address emergency matters. There should be no greater need than helping over a quarter-million Hoosiers who are officially looking for work – as well as thousands more who have either given up hope of ever finding a job or are no longer classified as unemployed.

These are not new concerns for me, as you know. In recent times, it often seems as if our pleas to the governor and his supporters to do something…anything…to get more Hoosiers back to work have fallen on deaf ears.

This week, we were told that job creation will be the top priority for the party in charge of state government.

What is their primary economic development tool? That wrongly-named idea called “right-to-work.”

Do not be swayed by the term. As has been demonstrated time and again through the years in the states that allow such policies, “right-to-work” means lower pay for workers, fewer benefits to help the families of workers, and unsafe workplaces. It should be called “right-to-work” FOR LESS.

But let us look at another way to create jobs in Indiana.

This one recognizes that small businesses are the engine that drives our state’s economy, since they are responsible for 80 percent of all new job creation. Instead of giving large corporations tax breaks that usually end up benefitting only shareholders, we help small businesses and, in turn, encourage them to hire the unemployed and Hoosier veterans.

Instead of talking about making a commitment to Hoosier workers, we demonstrate it by making sure that Hoosiers get first crack at public works jobs that are funded by our tax dollars. And if companies that demand a helping hand from Indiana taxpayers to create jobs do not live up to their end of the deal, let’s make absolutely sure that we get our money back.

I believe these ideas will truly put Hoosiers back to work. They will encourage businesses to come to Indiana, and they will offer jobs with good pay that enable people to support their families.

I believe they are better than relying on a one-sided proposal that only will lower wages.

This will be just one example of the debate that is about to take place in the Indiana General Assembly in 2012. The people of this state will have the chance to see two different visions of Indiana’s future.

In the 2012 session, House Democrats will be proposing a plan called “Helping Hoosiers Now” that will focus on getting people back to work, giving our children the quality education they deserve, and protecting families.

In the weeks to come, I will be talking about proposals to give targeted tax relief to families, provide a renewed emphasis on early education, make a greater commitment to detecting and preventing child abuse, and continuing to restore public trust in government by eliminating the risks of “pay-to-play” scandals.

These are the kinds of issues that we need to be debating at the Statehouse. I look forward to discussing them on the floor of the Indiana House and when I travel through the district.

With the next session just around the corner, I want to tell you how to reach me to make your feelings known about any matter involving state government.

Here are the best ways to stay in touch:

Call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of 1-800-382-9842;

Write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; or

E-mail me at