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[r29] Column: Recognizing Legislative Accomplishments
Start Date: 3/24/2014Start Time: 8:00 AM
End Date: 3/24/2014End Time: 8:00 AM
Entry Description
Recognizing Legislative Accomplishments

Every year important bills pass out of the Legislature with near unanimous support and are signed into law by the governor. Unfortunately, a lot of these bills receive little, if any, publicity. The media’s accounts of the Statehouse are much more divisive than is the case for an overwhelming majority of the bills we discuss as members on both sides of the aisle work together on a myriad of issues; a stark contrast to federal politics. 

We worked to strengthen all of these aspects of our state’s economy, in addition to supporting veterans, focusing on student safety, easing the process for adoptive parents and setting recycling goals for municipalities. 

One issue that always gets a lot of support, as it should, is legislation benefiting veterans. This session, we worked to find additional avenues to support, recognize and aid Hoosier men and women in uniform. Veterans and their families will now be able to apply for financial assistance through the Military Family Relief Fund, which is financed through the sale of the “Support Our Troops” and “Hoosier Veteran” license plates, any time after their service, instead of only within a three-year period. Removing the eligibility cap allows Hoosier veterans who were deployed more than three years ago to apply if they experience financial hardships. This is simply the right thing to do for Hoosier vets.

In 2012, the Lifeline Law was passed granting certain immunities to students who worked with the authorities in emergency situations involving underage drinking. It was a great first step to saving lives and encouraging individuals to report potentially life-threatening situations. While I certainly do not condone underage drinking, I do think we need to pass sensible laws that don’t make students fearful to help friends in dire situations. 

This session, we expanded the Lifeline Law to include more legal protection for individuals who report any medical emergency, like a sexual assault, if alcohol is involved. The State Department of Health or the Office of Women’s Health will also be studying sexual assault and domestic violence in Indiana, establish reasons why these crimes go underreported, develop ways to improve reporting and come up with effective methods to connect victims with the help they need.

Women’s health and the well-being of all Hoosiers are very important to me as we work to make Indiana the best place to live, work and raise a family. Supporting families includes supporting adoption and other child services. The process for adoption can be lengthy and expensive, which is why we created an adjusted gross income tax credit starting in 2015 for individuals that qualify for the federal adoption credit. Qualifying Hoosiers would be eligible for a state tax credit equal to the lessor of either 10 percent of the qualifying federal adoption credit amount claimed on their federal income tax return or $1,000 per child.

This law is about building stronger families and giving more resources to Hoosiers who want to adopt a child. It will lessen the financial burden on families who have made the bold and life changing decision to adopt a child by offsetting costs associated with the adoption process like adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and numerous other expenses. 

In addition to these impactful initiatives, we got the ball rolling on making Indiana government more “green” by requiring recycling collectors to submit an annual activity report to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Legislation was also enacted establishing a state goal of recycling at least 50 percent of all municipal waste by 2019. 

Previously, Indiana didn’t have a way of identifying or reporting how much is recycled annually and didn’t have a statewide goal for recycling municipal solid waste. I believe that the activity reports will provide a crucial breakthrough in accountability and will showcase the long-term benefits of prudently managing waste.

There are a lot of issues that we discuss each session that benefit all Hoosiers. I will continue to keep our district informed of the legislative changes and laws passed this year, so Hoosiers are knowledgeable of how their government is working for them. Please continue to contact me throughout the interim and keep an open dialogue on the ways we can make a difference for Noblesville, Hamilton County and the state as a whole. As I’ve said many a time, civic engagement is key to good governance – stay involved! 

-30-

Representative Kathy Kreag Richardson (R-Noblesville)
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 317-232-9831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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