Local legislators have begun their 2013 Indiana legislative session and stopped in for the Goshen’s Chamber of Commerce’s “Third House” meetings Saturday morning to update Chamber members and the public on potential legislation.
Sate Sen. Carlin Yoder and State Reps. Wes Culver and Rebecca Kubacki shared their insights on issues that included the Department of Child Services, the state’s border and funding infastructure.
State Sen. Carlin Yoder said four or five bills have been voted on so far.
“we’re starting to work our way through,” he said. “It’s a budget year and we’ve got to figure the budget out. Gov. (Mike) Pence gave us his budget proposal and it will look somewhat different than what he proposed.”
Some of Yoder’s bills will address education as well as the recommendation by Gov. Pence to give another $35 million to help the troubled Department of Child Services.
There’s one bill that Yoder will be working on and finds a “little interesting,” he said, chuckling.
“The Indiana and Michigan state lines were surveyed in 1840 and used wooden stakes to mark the lines. This is 2013 and we need to know where those lines are before we come into any disputes,” Yoder said. “We need to survey those lines and put in concrete markers to get the job done.”
In the Senate, the number of bills are unlimited so Yoder stated he had 13 to 14 this year.
Before giving the rundown of the top bills she’s working on, State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki gave her impressions on Gov. Pence’s State of the State address.
“There seems to be so much doom and gloom and his tone was refreshing,” she said. “People look at our state and admire what we do. We need to take that to the next level. We are one of the few states operating in the black. Nothing is going to be perfect and I am pleased he has set the stage with his tone — to be optimistic.”
Some of her focus on bills will be with the DCS and the problems facing the program, including the high turnover rate of caseworkers and the hotline being centralized in Indianapolis.
“It’s not easy being a caseworker,” Kubacki said. “It takes a special person to be a caseworker. We need to be increasing the base pay to lower the turnover rate and be a support system for the caseworkers and do all we can to help them.”
She also spoke passionately about credit time for child molesters and not having them serve their whole sentence.
“If they are given 30 years for raping a child, then they should serve 30 years and not be given credit time for education or even waking up in the morning,” Kubacki said. “I’m tired of protecting the molesters and not the children. I’m tired of worrying about the molesters...Focus on the children.”
State Rep. Wes Culver addressed the talk of current legislation aimed at freeing up millions of more dollars for repair for roads and bridges. The bill would stop the state from diverting $150 million from fuel taxes that currently fund the Indiana State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
“People are buying more efficient cars thus creating less money and the recession created less money,” Culver said.
Gov. Pence proposed a measure that would take a portion of the state’s budget surplus that currently goes to pay off some of state’s public pension obligations and redirect those dollars for road improvement, Culver added.
He also supports the sales tax collection for Internet sales.
“People are supposed to be honest and if they buy something online, they are suppose to report it on their income tax return,” Culver said. “How many people do that, though?”
Gov. Pence mentioned being in favor of funding early childhood education programs in his address.
“I’m opposed to funding something new when we already have good programs in place,” Culver said.
The Goshen Chamber of Commerce hosts the Third House meetings and features local lawmakers discussing a wide range of legislative topics. The meetings are open to the public and the next scheduled meeting takes place at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9.