2012 LEGISLATIVE SESSION WRAP-UP
The recently concluded 2012 legislative session may have been quick – just under three months, as prescribed by law – but lawmakers were able to achieve some major legislative victories for the people of Indiana.
Chief among those accomplishments was passage of a Right to Work law for our state. In Northeast Indiana, the average wage 20 years ago was 102 percent of the national average. Today that wage is only 78 percent of the national average. Our economic development experts in Northeast Indiana were unanimous in their support of Right to Work, having seen scores of companies reject Indiana as a site for new or expanded operations because we were not a Right to Work state. Despite all of our successful efforts in recent years to create a positive business and job creation climate in Indiana, many companies will only locate in a Right to Work state.
This week, Gov. Mitch Daniels noted that in just one short month since the Right to Work bill passed, 31 companies have shown interest in coming to Indiana because of this new law. I look forward to a number of announcements in the months ahead about new jobs coming to our state as a result of Indiana becoming the 23rd Right to Work state in America.
Taxpayers were also winners this session. Thanks to the hard work of Sen. Luke Kenley, Sen. Brandt Hershman, Rep. Jeff Espich and others, Hoosiers will see no new tax increases again this year. In fact, because lawmakers have held the line on spending during a severe national recession, taxpayers are on track to receive an automatic refund next year from the state's excess reserves.
Hoosiers will also be glad to know that after decades of failed attempts, lawmakers this year successfully eliminated the state's inheritance tax. As one of only eight states with such a tax, Indiana was chasing away many retirees who otherwise might have stayed here. That will no longer be the case.
Also, after many years of talk, full day kindergarten will finally be completely funded. Many studies show early childhood education is fundamentally important to a person's lifelong success, making this a big win for both our kids and Indiana's future as a global competitor.
The General Assembly passed legislation re-asserting the 150-year-old law ensuring the right to defend yourself in your home, a concept that was threatened by the Indiana Supreme Court's controversial ruling in the Barnes v. State case last year. At the same time, this legislation was very carefully crafted to provide better protection for our law enforcement officers.
New laws also eliminated nepotism and conflicts of interest in local government; college credit transferability was streamlined to help students transfer more easily between state institutions; stronger laws were enacted to fight the explosion of dangerous synthetic drugs, as well as the scourge of human trafficking; victims of last year's state fair tragedy were provided additional financial assistance; and a statewide smoking ban was finally passed after many previous attempts had failed. The list goes on and on.
David C. Long
Indiana State Senate