Manning Memo: Kicking off the 2020 legislative session

The following column was submitted by State Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Denver) represents House District 23, which includes portions of Cass, Fulton and Miami counties.

State Representative Ethan Manning
State Representative Ethan Manning

We kicked off the 2020 legislative session last week at the Statehouse. It’s an honor to continue serving you as your state representative and working to improve the quality of life in our community. This is a “short session,” which lasts until early March. This is the session we consider bills that have zero or limited fiscal impact.

Because our time is limited, we got off to a fast start. The first bill we heard this year in the House, House Bill 1001, calls for teachers and schools to not be negatively impacted by the ILEARN exams administered in the spring of 2019 or 2020. This would give students, educators and schools more time to adapt to the new exam. We also heard a bill, House Bill 1002, which would remove the state mandate that student test scores be included in teacher evaluations. Local school districts could still use this exam to evaluate teachers if they think it is the most accurate and fair way to assess teachers’ performance. I am glad to support these two proposals to further help our teachers and schools.

Education is not the only matter I am watching closely this session. I just filed House Bill 1099, which is a bill regarding low head dams in an effort to keep people on the water safe. Low head dams are dams in a river where the water flows over the top of it. Many people have been hurt or killed by getting caught in the circulating currents beneath the low head dams, which makes them very dangerous.

The bill would require the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to develop safety and warning standards, which could include adding signage along the river. The DNR would also share these new requirements with property owners who have a low head dam on their private land. The proposal has liability insurance requirements for dam owners as well. It would also makes it a Class C infraction to swim, wade or boat near a low head dam. A person could also face the same charge for standing, sitting or walking on one. This bill is about human safety, but also about outdoor recreation in our state’s rivers and the health of the rivers themselves. I will keep you updated on the progress of this bill.

Since I write this column each week during session, I’ll be writing more about other bills I am personally working on and anything else of note we are considering this session. You can learn more about bills making their way through the Indiana General Assembly at iga.in.gov. If you see a bill or hear of one that interests you, please reach out to my office at H23@iga.in.gov. I would love to hear your input to continue serving our community. Remember, it’s your state government, so participate in it!