With the 2012 legislative session in the rearview mirror, the two-year work of the 117th General Assembly elected in November of 2010 is complete. Despite unprecedented protests, boycotts and walkouts, Republican leaders continued our charge to “Keep Calm and Carry On” for Hoosier taxpayers. The clear message sent — despite historic challenges, Indiana is open for business.
There were skeptics when I announced my primary focus would be to make Indiana the 23rd Right to Work state in the nation, and the only one in the industrial Midwest. But now that the dust has settled and we are the first state to successfully make this leap in a dozen years, economic development officials are reporting an immediate response. State and local officials have cited more than 30 employers that are reconsidering Indiana for their expansion plans with five or more deals already closed or nearly so. Hoosiers will see the positive effects of RTW in the months ahead, and for decades to come.
But historic RTW legislation was only the beginning. After decades of discussion we funded full-day kindergarten for every local school, making a funded full day option available to every 5 year old in the state. We provided additional relief for victims of the State Fair tragedy, bolstered pension funds for conservation officers, state police and teachers and provided nearly $200 million in taxpayer refunds which will be returned to every Hoosier income tax payer in the immediate future.
We enacted long-sought government reforms by ending the practice of government employees serving on their own legislative boards or hiring and supervising close relatives, and for the first time since the adoption of the Open Access to Records Act we provided teeth for courts to enforce penalties for non-compliance by local officials.
We continued to streamline state government by eliminating 20 more bureaucratic boards and over 200 positions deemed ineffective, inefficient or duplicative by the Select Committee on Government Reduction. We extended the Hoosier Investment Tax Credit for Indiana employers to expand hiring opportunities and we provided significant additional financial assistance for returning veterans through the expansion of the Military Family Relief Fund.
Important measures to reduce crime were discussed and enacted including strengthening our human trafficking laws prior to the Super Bowl, revisions to Indiana’s “synthetic drug” law to address the latest dangerous chemicals hitting our streets and the expansion of immunities for designated drivers and Good Samaritans.
We re-established Indiana’s longstanding “Castle Doctrine” as the law of the land after the Supreme Court reduced the limitations on illegal governmental entry to Hoosiers’ homes, while at the same time adopting additional protections for law enforcement officials from the use of deadly force.
We approved measures regulating the construction of outdoor stages with the goal of protecting Hoosiers from future harm, and provided more flexibility for local schools in financial difficulty. We even passed a statewide smoking ban after six prior years of contentious and unsuccessful debate.
One more item to ponder — despite the rhetoric from some quarters, 99 percent of the votes taken on the final passage bills in the Indiana House were bipartisan votes, with a mix of Republicans and Democrats supporting the measure. Keep that one in mind the next time you hear it’s not possible to complete our work civilly or on a bipartisan basis in the General Assembly.
Not many projects come in under time and under budget, and still with excellent results, but that’s exactly what Hoosiers experienced with this year’s legislative session. The clear message — despite historic challenges, Indiana is open for business.
Rep. Brian Bosma, a Republican from Indianapolis, is the speaker of the House of the Indiana House of Represenatives.