Farmers, veterans main focus for Lindauer



State Rep. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, is focusing on matters to make processes easier for farmers and veterans.

He is tackling the issue farmers brought to him last year about cleaning out their ditches, and how there are many state rules they must comply with, some of which they didn’t know. That compliance involves multiple agencies. Local farmers said that keeping up with the multitude of rules and agencies makes the process of maintaining their ditches difficult.

Lindauer’s bill will attempt to address those issues.

“We’re trying to look at ways where we can ease the burden on farmers or at least streamline the process for farmers,” he said, “so that they don’t have to jump through so many hoops just to take care of their land.”

How that will ultimately look is still being researched.

“The bill is still a work in progress,” Lindauer said. “There’s so many moving parts and pieces and agencies involved...”

Another bill will deal with rules concerning floodplains and floodways.

“Right now, Indiana is more strict than the federal government,” Lindauer said. “We’re looking at that, and maybe pulling that back to make it in line with the federal government, and seeing what impact that may have statewide.”

The language of that bill is also in process.

“The problem with these two bills is that there’s a lot of government overlap, including federal government layers,” Lindauer said. “We can’t do anything about the federal aspect. So it’s trying to peel back where in state code can we have positive impacts.

“But we don’t want to create unintended negative consequences down the road for other folks either. So that’s where the trick is for these two bills, and why we’re being careful [with the bills’ wording].”

He also plans to propose two bills involving military families.

One applies to the college education of spouses or children of active-duty members.

“If you live in the state and you’re assigned to duty out of state, and [a spouse of child] has been accepted to an in-state college, [that family member doesn’t] lose the in-state tuition rate, as long as [he or she] stays enrolled,” Lindauer explained.

Based on the research his office has done, “most universities in Indiana are doing this,” he said. “But it’s just not codified in state law. This is just to make sure this does not become an issue in the future.”

The other bill involves a military family moving into Indiana and enrolling their children in school.

“If you don’t have proof of residency by the school district’s cutoff date for enrollment, you will be able to show your military orders, your documentation showing your pending relocation to the state,” Lindauer said. “That will allow them to enroll their children, and bring their proof of residency later.

“It provides a little more ease of use for military families, to make their transitions easier,” he said.

A fifth bill Lindauer is researching came from a concern expressed by a City of Huntingburg employee.

The employee said checking utility lines the city maintains means that equipment may go on state highways, which can technically be illegal.

“Right now in the state, if a municipality or a county passes a specific ordinance, they can be on the state highway. But an ordinance has to be passed,” Lindauer said. “The problem is if you go to into two or three jurisdictions for your work — say you’re in Huntingburg and you go into Dubois County and then maybe cross into Spencer County — you have to have three separate ordinances.”

He is looking at whether or not there should be a statewide law that allows municipalities or counties to be on a state highway if they need to do so to do their work, like maintaining utility lines.

“Local control is always something that I’m concerned about. I always prefer to keep control local whenever possible,” Lindauer said. “But trying to weigh if maybe this is one of those situations where maybe a blanket policy is warranted.”

He is looking into if this is a problem statewide before he submits a bill, he said.

Lindauer represents District 63, which encompasses Bainbridge, Boone, Columbia, Hall, Harbison, Madison and Marion townships in Dubois County and parts of Pike, Daviess and Martin counties.

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