By Valerie Werkmeister
Taxes, government spending, gun buy-back programs, Common Core concerns and the need for a western bypass in Mount Vernon are just a few of the topics discussed during a meet your legislator event held at the Hovey House in Mount Vernon this past Saturday.
Congressman Larry Bucshon (District 8), State Representative Wendy McNamara (District 76), Indiana State Senator Jim Tomes (District 49) and Indiana House Representative Tom Washburne (District 64) were part of a panel invited to meet with their constituents. The event was sponsored by the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Each legislator shared a few of the important bills and projects they are working on before the public was invited to ask questions.
Tomes said he recently learned from State Treasurer Richard Mourdock that Posey County residents have the most participation in the state’s 529 education savings plan than any other county. A total of 1,692 children are represented with over $23 million invested.
Tomes added he had a few bills that are currently on their third reading including a bill that will extend the timeframe given to newly elected officials to seek bonding and a change in policy on firearms buy-back programs.
Tomes stated he wants to give elected officials an additional 30 days post-election in order to secure bonding. He said the bill is headed to the house.
He feels the destruction of guns collected during law enforcement gun buy-back events are a waste of potential funds for that law enforcement agency. Guns collected are destroyed or recycled at the price of scrap metal. Tomes’ feels a better business practice would change the policy to allow those law enforcement agencies to auction or sell the guns to qualified individuals.
“At auctions, those firearms usually run a pretty hefty price,” Tomes said.
Those funds can then be utilized by the agency that collected the guns. He felt it was a win-win situation as most of those agencies are strapped with tight budgets.
The other aspect of the bill deals with firearms collections. He said individuals who own firearms collections and have been declared adjudicated incompetent will be able to petition the court for the sale of the collection rather than forfeiture. The proceeds of the sale will be returned to the owner, less an eight percent administrative fee to the law enforcement agency.
McNamara discussed points of career and technical education bill she is currently working on. She stated she is investigating how the programs are used as well as how the universities partner with the local schools on these programs.
She is also working on a project to develop a career and technical diploma for high school students. She explained the current Core 40 diploma puts high school students on a college-track following graduation. However, the new career and technical diploma would give those students a place to learn skills towards a career they plan to enter following graduation. She added that the diploma would garner enough credits to put the student on a path to secure their Associate’s Degree in a year following high school.
The third bill she has worked on involves assistance to victims of…
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