State Employees to Receive Pay Increase This Week

 Roughly 26,000 state employees will be getting a pay raise this week.

The distribution of the state’s pay for performance will appear on this week’s paycheck. Employees who were evaluated as outstanding will receive an eight percent increase, those who exceed expectations will earn a five percent raise, a three percent raise will be given to those who meet expectations, and employees who do not meet expectations will not get an increase.

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Knox Local Re-Appointed To State Board of Health Facility Administration

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Governor Mitch Daniels has made some appointments to several boards and commissions.

One reappointment Daniels made was to the State Board of Health Facility Administration. Daniels reappointed Jennifer Gappa of Knox who will serve on the board that issues licenses to qualified persons as health facility administrators and establishes qualification criteria for them as well. The board adopts rules establishing standards for the competent practice of a health facility administrator and may suspend, deny or revoke licenses for violations of those standards.

Gappa’s term expires in 2015.

Indiana Taxpayers To Receive Automatic Refund

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

According to Governor Mitch Daniels, a preliminary look at Indiana’s fiscal year data shows the state will close the year with reserves of more than $2 billion and a structural surplus, meaning annual revenue in excess of annual expenses of more than $500 million.

“Thanks to that amount and its overage beyond ten percent of next year’s budget, there will be a major infusion of money into Indiana pension funds, which are already the strongest in the country, and the first automatic taxpayer refund in state history,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. “So, what we can say today is that we have a double-digit discount for the typical Indiana taxpayer.”

Governor Daniels stated that you will receive the first automatic taxpayer refund when you file your state taxes in 2013. The Indiana General Assembly approved the Governor’s plan for an automatic taxpayer refund in 2011. The refund will clearly be in excess of $100 for a single filer or $200 for a joint return. The exact amount will not be known until the fall when the estimate will be made of how many tax returns will qualify. The median income tax payment was a little over $800 last year, so the refund will amount to more than ten percent.

For fiscal year 2013, the state is projecting a structural surplus of more than $400 million, resulting in the state’s reserves again exceeding $2 billion.

Governor Signs SEA 274 into Law

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Governor Mitch Daniels signed Senate Enrolled Act 274 into law Friday, known as the “Indiana Lifeline Law.”

The legislation provides immunity for certain alcohol-related offenses committed by minors who seek emergency medical assistance.

Daniels says he is proud of the college students who pushed for a new law designed to encourage people to seek medical help for those who are dangerously intoxicated. The law shields people from arrest on public intoxication or underage drinking charges if they get help for someone facing an alcohol-related emergency.

Supporters hope the law that takes effect July 1 will make college students and others more likely to report alcohol poisoning.

The state reports 21 underage drinkers have died in Indiana since 2004 because of alcohol poisoning.

Starke County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner Set for Saturday

New Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson is slated as a speaker Saturday night at the Starke County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner. The event, to be held at the newly remodeled Bass Lake Community Center, will begin with a social hour at 6:00 p.m. and the dinner at 7:00 p.m. CT.

Other local and state candidates are expected to be in attendance as well as Second District Congressional candidate, Jackie Walorski.

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Governor Daniels Signs Funding Bill For Full-Day Kindergarten

State Senator Ed Charbonneau

Saying the bill represented a “completion of his administration’s eight year quest to bring full day kindergarten to every Indiana family,” Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law in March a funding bill that would accomplish the goal.

Helping to accomplish the goal was State Senator Ed Charbonneau, 5th District of Valparaiso. Charbonneau worked for years on education funding, which takes up more than 50 percent of the General Fund Budget.

We talked with Senator Charbonneau recently about the bill.

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Plymouth Atty James Clevenger Appointed to State Ethics Commission

Marshall County Attorney James Clevenger

Plymouth Attorney James Clevenger has been appointed as chairman of the Indiana State Ethics Commission by Governor Mitch Daniels. A partner in the law firm of Wyland, Humphrey, Wagner, and Clevenger, LLP, Clevenger was appointed to the commission in 2004 by then-Governor Joe Kernan. He was later reappointed by Daniels in 2008.

Clevenger is a 1970 Plymouth High School graduate who received his undergraduate degree from Hanover College and his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis. His law practice includes general and trial, corporate, probate, administrative law, and litigation, and he has been the Marshall County Attorney since 1997.

The five-member State Ethics Commission has jurisdiction over all current and former state officers, current and former state employees and appointees, and anyone who has or has had a business relationship with any state agency. According to Clevenger, the commission’s function is to make sure state government and its employees are honest, fair, and beyond reproach.

Governor Daniels Signs Bill that Addresses Property Tax Issues in LaPorte County

Governor Mitch Daniels recently signed into law a bill amended by Republican State Representative Tom Dermody, of LaPorte, that addresses the ongoing property tax problems in LaPorte County. The bill establishes taxpayer protections, gives incentives to local officials to participate in responsible leadership and gives the LaPorte County Commissioners more control to remedy the situation.

Taxpayers were recently notified they had a limited amount of time to pay property tax bills from 2007. This bill gives the county council the authority to allow taxpayers six months or more to send in their payments or to set up a payment plan. The county will also be prohibited from placing a property on tax sale for at least one year after the payment deadline. For those who can afford to pay immediately, the council will have the option of granting a tax credit of up to two percent of delayed property taxes if the taxes are paid within 30 days.

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Pulaski County Sheriff Discusses Police Entry Law

police badge

Governor Mitch Daniels recently signed into law Senate Enrolled Act 1 which specifies that a person may use reasonable force against any other person in certain circumstances, including police officers.

You may prevent or terminate an officer’s unlawful entry into your home or the officer’s criminal interference with property lawfully in the person’s possession. Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer says there are a few instances were police entry is justified.

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Governor Daniels Signs Golf Cart Bill

Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill last week that revises the provisions governing the use of golf carts on certain highways.

If you use golf carts in any county, you must have a valid driver’s license. The bill suggests that a fine be assessed for a violation of the ordinance to be deposited in the general fund of the county. It also allows an operator of a golf cart to cross a highway in the state highway system, at right angles, in order to travel from one highway to another highway under the jurisdiction of the county when the operation can be done safely. A violation of an ordinance governing the use of a golf cart on a state highway in a county is considered an ordinance violation.

General Assembly Completes Productive Session

Indiana Statehouse

The General Assembly, which began with a month-long battle over right to work, ended with a flurry as legislators passed a smoking ban, abolished the inheritance tax and set aside more money for full day kindergarten and state fair stage collapse victims.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long, of Ft. Wayne, boasts legislators again held the line on spending with taxpayers scheduled to receive a $40-$50 rebate as a result.

Governor Mitch Daniels issued a statement thanking legislators for an extraordinarily productive session.

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Spc. Robert Tauteris, Jr. Laid to Rest

Two children hold up signs to thank Spc. Robert Tauteris, Jr. for his service

Spc. Robert Joseph Tauteris, Jr. was laid to rest yesterday near his mother in a LaCrosse cemetery. Tauteris was killed in action in Afghanistan on January 5th, along with three other members of his platoon.

Hundreds of people attended the services at the Braman and Bailey Funeral Home in North Judson. Included was Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Congressman Joe Donnelly and State Representative Nancy Dembowski.

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Democrats Meet to Discuss Right to Work Legislation

Indiana Statehouse

The 2012 short session of the state legislature didn’t get off the ground yesterday as Democrats stayed behind closed doors for almost two-and-a-half hours.

The Democrats are discussing how to derail proposed right to work legislation that Governor Daniels has put forward as one of the most important pieces of legislation.

The tactic wasn’t completely unexpected as Democrats fled to Illinois last year over the same issue.

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2012 General Assembly to Convene Wednesday

Indiana Statehouse

The 2012 Indiana General Assembly convenes Wednesday with a contentious labor bill topping the legislative agenda.

GOP lawmakers and Governor Mitch Daniels say the law is needed to make Indiana more attractive to companies looking for a place to do business.

Union leaders and Democrats call it a transparent attempt to dismantle organized labor and say such a law drives down wages.

Some Republican Senators with many union members in their districts are placed in a tough spot going into an election year. One of those Senators, Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso, has said that he is going to study the bill long and hard before placing a vote one way or the other.

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Senator Charbonneau Discusses Right-to-Work

State Senator Ed Charbonneau

Fifth District Republican Senator Ed Charbonneau was recently questioned about the possible upheaval at the state legislature over Governor Mitch Daniels’ announcement to push right-to-work legislation. Governor Daniels, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate Speaker David Long, have called getting right-to-work legislation passed their “top priority.”

Charbonneau concurred.

But even though his leadership is pushing the measure hard, Charbonneau is unsure that he can support it.

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Governor Daniels Supports Right to Work

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Governor Mitch Daniels confirmed yesterday what everyone has been expecting. He said in a statement that after a year of study and reflection, he will push for Indiana to join the 22 states which have enacted right to work laws.

Here is his entire statement:
“Right to work says only that no worker can be forced to pay union dues in order to keep a job. Lack of that simple freedom to choose costs some workers money they’d rather keep, but it also costs something even larger: countless middle-class jobs that would come to Indiana if only we provided right to work protection,” said Daniels.

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Governor Daniels Visits Kersting’s Motorcycle Museum

Governor Daniels talks to Jim Kersting about the motorcycles in the museum

It’s not unusual for people from far and wide to stop by Kersting’s Motorcycle Museum in North Judson. The Governor of the State of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, stopped in for a visit yesterday and took a tour of the most famous motorcycle museum in the Midwest and the most interesting in the United States. He was given the tour by Jim Kersting.

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Starke County Named in Disaster Declaration

Flooding occurred after a levee break on the Robbins Ditch. Photo by Becky Pulver.

Governor Mitch Daniels has issued a disaster emergency for 34 counties due to severe weather that caused widespread damage to homes, businesses and public property beginning April 18th.

Affected counties experienced flooding, damaged roads, downed power lines and other severe damage. The Executive Order includes Starke County, which is the only county in the northern part of the state to be included. Starke County EMA Director, Ted Bombagetti, told WKVI that the levee break on the Robbins Ditch was included in the claim along with a levee break by the Kankakee Fish and Wildlife area outside of North Judson.

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