(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana lawmakers began making preparations for the 2011 legislative session Tuesday.
Members of the Indiana House of Rep-
resentatives are sworn in during Organ-
ization Day at the Statehouse Tuesday.
Organization Day was held and the statehouse in Indianapolis with House and Senate leadership being named and committee appointments handed out.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) named District 43 Senator Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg) Majority Floor Leader Emeritus.
“Many challenges lay ahead of us,” Nugent said. “2011 will be known as a ‘long’ session, one in which we must formulate a balanced budget and still adjourn by April 29.”
Nugent, entering his 33rd year in the Senate, noted four hot topics during the 2011 session which begins Jan. 5: protecting taxpayers and passing a balanced budget, encouraging economic growth and job creation, reforming education and putting students first, and developing a fair redistricting plan.
Crafting a budget may come easier in 2011 than in 2009 when the Democrat-controlled House and Republican Senate entered a special session to finish the budget when they could not pass one before the end of that April.
However, voters in the November election gave Indiana Republicans a majority in both chambers, 60 to 40 in the House and 37-13 in the Senate.
Long also named District 42 Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) as the ranking majority member of the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology.
Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) is the new Speaker of the House, taking the reins from Pat Bauer (D-South Bend). He issued a call for bipartisanship - though his party has almost full control at the Statehouse – to east the process of creating a new budget, reforming education, taking on changes in local government, and other issues at the top of the 2011 General Assembly agenda.
“These are exactly the issues that we will be dealing with in this chamber and throughout this building in the coming months. And it’s my hope that we can do what those families have done and that is gather together around the kitchen table—with the committee chairmen and in the committee rooms of this chamber and talk about those problems. Openly together, Republican and Democrat, minority and majority parties, like never before will have to work in a bipartisan fashion,” said Bosma.
The Speaker admitted budget talks will be tough as lawmakers have to make a 2011-12 spending plan based on revenues which, for the first time in state history, have declined for six consecutive years.
“We are facing the deepest recession that our nation has seen since the Great Depression, and, according to IU economist, the worst recovery on record,” Bosma said.
Bosma said all House meetings including committee hearings will be broadcast live on the Internet for the first time. Before now, only the House floor and a handful of committees were shown.
"The voters have spoken. It's time to get to work, and I'm ready," said District 55 Rep. Tom Knollman (R-Liberty).