State study panels slated

GREENFIELD — The next session of the Indiana Generally Assembly won’t begin until January, but local lawmakers already are preparing to work on key issues.

The Indiana House of Representatives this week announced summer study committee assignments for lawmakers. Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, and Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, each were assigned to three committees.

Last month, Sen. Mike Crider, R-Greenfield, was appointed to three committees and a commission.

Summer study committees are formed each year to examine issues that weren’t ready for final passage during the previous legislative session. Lawmakers hear from experts and listen to testimony in an effort to decide whether to refine a bill for the upcoming session or kill it.

Lawmakers are expected to begin meeting in the coming weeks and will continue to work on bills through October.

Crider is on committees for public safety and military affairs; public health, behavioral health and human services; and financial institutions and insurance.

He said he enjoys summer study committees because they give legislators the opportunity to dig deeper into issues without the time constraints they face during the regular session.

“You see more a lot more direct question and answering,” he said. “It really gives your legislation a boost if it’s had that level of scrutiny.”

He hopes a bill he authored during this past session will gain enough support to be introduced in 2016 after it met resistance earlier this year.

The bill deals with insurance claims arising when one person on a jointly held insurance policy purposely damages property the pair share. It occurs most often during domestic partnership breakups, he said.

Often, the innocent co-insured party isn’t able to file a claim with the insurance company because the damage was caused by the other person. Crider’s bill aims to remedy the issue, providing relief to the innocent partner if that person works with investigators and the insurance company.

Cherry will work on committees dealing with state fiscal issues. He’ll help review several tax incentives and whether a uniform food and beverage tax should be enacted if adopted by local governments.

He also was assigned to a panel studying government issues and will serve as the vice chairman of the State Fair Advisory Committee.

One issue the Interim Study Committee on Government will examine is the effect of annexation laws on economic development projects.

Cherry said in a news release that he is honored to be appointed to all three committees that tackle issues that are important to Hoosiers.

“I look forward to working with my fellow legislators, especially on the Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy. There are several important issues assigned to this committee that are vital to our state,” he said.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, who represents part of western Hancock County, was appointed to study agriculture and natural resources and will review issues related to facilitating an Indiana-based local farm and food product economy.

He said interim study committees play a vital role in the legislative process.

“In order to craft good policy that is responsible to Hoosiers, it is important that we utilize the interim to gather information and work to find innovative solutions to everyday challenges,” he said in a news release.

Summer study committees’ work is similar to committees that review issues during the regular session. Lawmakers will hear testimony from experts, and lawmaker recommendations are carried into the next session to be reviewed by the entire General Assembly.

At a glance

Local state lawmakers recently were assigned to summer study committees, which review proposed bills that weren’t strong enough to become law during the last session.

Their assignments are:

Sen. Mike Crider, R-Greenfield

  • Interim study Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs
  • Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services
  • Interim Study Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance
  • Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville

  • Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Military Base Planning Council
  • Indiana White River State Park Development Commission

Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield

  • Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy
  • Interim Study Committee on Government
  • Vice chairman of the State Fair Advisory Committee
  • Alternate to the Budget Committee
Author photo
Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.