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State Representative
Woody Burton
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A special guest column from state representative Woody Burton 

State Rep. Burton Addressing the needs of Hoosiers

10 weeks of house sessions reap benefits

A special Guest Column by State Rep, Woody Burton

 

Formatted for publishing by

Allen Watts – March 2016

Allen@JcCrier.com

 

Last week, the Indiana General Assembly adjourned Sine Die. This means we have completed all of our business for the session. It was a quick session with many issues addressed. I am always impressed with all the work we are able to accomplish in just 10 weeks. This year, we were able to find solutions to issues surrounding the 2015 ISTEP scores, address the future of ISTEP, create a plan that meets Indiana’s immediate road funding needs and take serious steps to curb illegal drug use in our state.

 

I take my job as a member of the House Committee on Education very seriously and work hard to ensure our education system is the best it can be. To prevent negative repercussions from the 2015 spring ISTEP test scores, two pieces of legislation progressed quickly through the process and were signed into the law within the first month of session. Last year, Indiana transitioned to new, more rigorous academic standards. Teacher performance evaluations and school A-F ratings were decoupled from those test scores under House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1003 and Senate Enrolled Act 200, respectively.

 

We also took a hard look at the current ISTEP test. If enacted, HEA 1395 would repeal ISTEP on July 1, 2017. Over the next few months, a commission—comprised of mostly educators—will examine our current accountability metrics and find the best possible replacement.

 

For months, leaders of the General Assembly worked diligently to address the funding needs of our transportation infrastructure. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001 directs $186 million upfront to a newly created local road and bridge matching grant. The legislation also redirects 1.5 cents of the 7 cents of sales tax on gasoline to the matching account as a source of ongoing funding and codifies the current equivalent of 1 cent already being dedicated to road funding. This means 2.5 cents of every 7 cents per gallon in sales tax is going toward roads—that’s in addition to the state’s 18-cent gasoline excise tax, which is already dedicated solely toward roads and bridges. An additional $328 million would go toward state road and bridge maintenance over the next two years. Next year, lawmakers will need to continue working on a long-term plan that will address our future road funding needs. 

 

Under Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 67, local governments would receive up to $430 million for road and bridge improvements across the state. In addition, about $505 million in local option income tax reserves currently held by the state will be returned to local units with $330 million dedicated to roads.

 

Indiana has led the nation in methamphetamine lab incidents for the third consecutive year. I was proud to support legislation that tackles the meth scourge afflicting our state. Senate Enrolled Act 80 maintains legitimate access to pseudoephedrine (PSE)—an ingredient in certain cold, flu and allergy medications and an essential precursor to make meth—to Hoosiers without a prescription. Pharmacists, upon making a professional determination, may sell an extraction-resistant PSE formulation or a smaller package of PSE to a purchaser who does not have a current relationship with the pharmacy. A prescription would only be required if a purchaser refuses the alternative options.

 

House Enrolled Act 1157 makes it illegal for meth-related felons to possess PSE without a prescription. A stop-sale alert would be issued by the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), a real-time electronic tracking system used by pharmacies and law enforcement, when one of these felons attempts to purchase PSE in Indiana.

 

Finally, there was a brief discussion of adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in Indiana’s civil rights statute. While the House of Representatives did not vote on a specific piece of legislation, there were several amendments considered in committees and on the House floor. These amendments were not successful.    

 

While I may not always agree with those who contact me on issues, I will continue to listen to anyone who reaches out to me. In order to represent you effectively, I encourage those with questions or concerns to contact me at 317-232-9648 or h58@iga.in.gov. I look forward to hearing from you while I continue to represent our community.

 

 

Rep. Burton (R-Whiteland) represents a portion of Johnson County.