TELL CITY — Indiana Sen. Mark Messmer came out to talk to the Tell City Kiwanis club Wednesday, March 1. Messmer (Republican Party) is a member of the Indiana State Senate, representing District 48. He assumed office Nov. 5, 2014.
Messmer gave a session recap of the bills that he has worked on currently. He had 10 bills that he filed. Three of them were amended into other bills.
Messmer had a part in the Senate Jump Resolution 18. This resolution proposes that there be an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that would repeal the 23 article of amendment to the Constitution. Legislators get appointed to a lot of boards. The Constitution prohibits legislators from being able to vote on those boards. This resolution would allow for legislators to have a vote on the boards they are on. They spend a ton of time on these boards and have no vote.
Messmer said that his most important bill is a one-sentence bill. He said it all started in 2019 when a mother took action after a sex predator was trying to groom her minor daughter.
The 14-year-old daughter came home from school on Valentines Day with a dozen roses that had been sent to her from a friend’s father. The mother then found out that the same man had been sending text messages to the child as well. It had been months of classic child grooming. The mother was grateful that the man was dumb enough to send the roses. The daughter had been scheduled to go with that family on a trip to Florida the following month for spring break. His text showed that he planned to make a move on that trip.
The mother went to the prosecutors, where they combed through the state laws. There was nothing that could be done because he hadn’t sent or requested anything sexual.
Messmer sat down with the state prosecutor to try to find a better solution for parents who had minors that were being groomed by an adult. They found that they could get a protective order. If the man violated the protective order, then they would be able to go after him.
This also sparked that need for a comprehensive bill to help with domestic violence cases. Messmer said that strangulation is the number one precursor to killing the victim.
Another issue tied into the bill they ran into was that Indiana was one of five states that allowed defense attorneys to get a minor child in deposition for a sex crime where the child was the victim. This put the children through so much anxiety and stress that parents would drop the case to avoid putting the child through more trauma. There was enough concern that they were able to pass Senate Bill 551 to give added protection to sexual and domestic violence victims. Defense attorneys were trying to find ways around the new rule of no depositions of a sex victim who was a minor child. Messmer released a new bill that thwarted the practices defense attorneys were doing to try to get around the no deposition rule. This ensures that the child has full protection.
Senate Bill 331 clarifies that a “deposition” includes written depositions under Indiana Trial Rule 31 as well as “any other formal or informal statement or interview.” This was an expansion of the Senate Enrolled Act 206 that prohibited a child under the age of 16 to be deposed unless the prosecutor agreed to it. Messmer said this was his most important bill because it protects children.
Messmer also had Senate Bill 332 passed this year. This bill is for planning and zoning, affecting military bases. It allows a unit to establish a military impact-zoning district for an area adversely impacted by the effects of military operations. Messmer said that it establishes a state area of interest comprised of land within one or both of the following: (1) Within three miles of certain military installations. (2) Within a military impact zoning district.
It also makes planning, zoning and development activity in a state area of interest subject to the military installation commander’s determination regarding the activity’s impact on military operations. It allows a representative of the military installation to serve as a nonvoting adviser to the unit’s plan commission and requires a lease or real estate sales disclosure form to disclose that the property is within a state area of interest.
Senate Bill 390 was just passed last week. This has to do with solar panels and wind energy ready communities. Messmer said that 38 counties had no countywide zoning or ordinances at all. This gives grants to communities that adopt wind and solar ready communities.
Senate Bill 472 was an advanced recycling bill. There is a company known as Brightmark Energy in northeast Indiana that recycles numbers 3-7 recycling goods. They use heat pressure to break it down to its elements. They can sell about 60 different products through the particular Indiana plant. They have had no rules through IDEM. IDEM has rule making authority but has never implemented it. The bill defines advanced recycling facilities as a manufacturing process for the conversion of post-use polymers and recovered feedstock’s into basic raw materials, feedstock, chemicals and other products.
“The facilities working in advanced recycling create valuable raw products from incoming material and do not dispose of it,” Messmer said. “Senate Bill 472 would support future investment in Indiana and lead to additional job growth for Hoosiers across the state.”
The next that Messmer is working on making is Senate Bill 13. Indiana is one of only nine states that have semis drive 65 while others are driving 70. Messmer couldn’t find anyone who had an answer for why this was a law. INDOT said that having traffic move the same speed could reduce accidents by 20%. The bill eliminates that law that has semi drivers go slower than other traffic.
The next discussed bill was Senate Bill 1. This will give access to more mental health facilities in the state of Indiana.
“More access to mental health is important. About 20% of people have a mental health issue,” said Messmer. It provides ongoing funding to build out a system of certified behavioral health clinics around Indiana.
Messmer then talked about Senate Bill 2. It has already been passed. For LLC owners, it will allow the company to pay the state income tax on the behalf of the business owner. This will allow full deductibility on the income tax and federal tax. This will put more money back into the pocket of business owners.
Senate Bill 3 is a bill establishing a state and local tax review task force. It specifies the membership of the task force, the topics the task force are required to review and makes an appropriation.
Senate Bill 4 seeks to restructure the state’s public health system and create “a uniform set of standards” that Hoosiers can expect when they go to a local health department. The state will funnel money to the local health departments in Indiana with an 80-20 match. This is optional. Local governments get to choose if they want to participate.
Senate Bill 5 gives Hoosiers the right to delete data that has been provided about them. This gives Hoosiers more control over their data.
Senate Joint Resolution 1 gives judges the opportunity to deny bail to serial felons that are considered a risk to the public. As of right now, bail can only be denied for murders.
Last is Senate Bill 268 just passed last week. This bands the state pension program from investing in China businesses.
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