Legislators want your opinion on issues

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Should Indiana have a hate crimes law?

Should military pensions be exempt from state income taxes?

Should the state legalize medical marijuana?

State legislators are seeking Hoosiers’ opinions on these and other issues, and have created legislative surveys that they hope the residents in their districts will fill out and return to them.

Surveys have been mailed to households and are also available on each legislator’s official website.

Questions on the surveys reflect issues that may come before the Indiana General Assembly. Legislators look at the survey results and take them into account as they consider their vote on different bills, a Legislature spokesperson said.

Each legislator who represents Dubois County has a survey. And some of the questions overlap with other legislators’ surveys. State Reps. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, and Steve Bartels, R-Eckerty, ask about making military pensions exempt from state income taxes. Lindauer, Bartels and State Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, ask about the legalization of medical marijuana.

Houchin and State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, inquire about legalizing sports betting in the state. They also ask if Indiana should require able-bodied adults to work or look for work to qualify for publicly-funded health care coverage under the Healthy Indiana Plan. And they want to hear what residents feel are priority funding matters for the state’s two-year budget.

Messmer, Lindauer and Houchin ask about implementing a hate or bias crimes law, as well as raising the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21.

Houchin and Bartels asks residents about the $1.8 billion currently in the state’s rainy day savings account. Houchin asks if the money should continue being saved or used for government spending. Bartels asks if residents think the amount is too much or not enough.

Legislators include on their surveys a question or two that aren’t on the others’ document. In addition to the other issues mentioned, Messmer also wants to know if residents support allowing farmers in the state to grow industrial hemp, a product that is now imported into Indiana.

Lindauer’s survey includes questions about governmental jurisdictions. He wants to know if residents want to decide by vote if township government should be kept, and if the constitution should include the establishment of a nonpartisan commission that draws legislative districts.

He also wants to know if residents think the state should make more online classes and distance-learning opportunities available to high school students.

Bartels asks for his constituents’ opinion on various tax questions, such as raising the state tax on tobacco, increasing the tax credit to educators for out of-pocket school supply expenses, and making teachers’ salaries exempt from state income taxes. He also asks about requiring drug testing as part of receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.

Houchin asks if people support or oppose providing parents of special needs children the option of receiving state educational funding for services like private school tuition and developmental therapy. She also wants to know if people support or oppose giving schools the ability to propose property tax referendums to pay for school safety improvements.

Survey responses are due at the end of the month. Lindauer’s and Bartels’ surveys can be found through their websites on the Indiana House Republicans page: www.indianahouserepublicans.com/members. Messmer’s and Houchin’s surveys can be found on their pages through the Indiana Senate Republicans website: www.indianasenaterepublicans.com/senators.




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