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Legislative Roundup: Jim Buck

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Jim Buck

Jim Buck (R-Kokomo).

Throughout the course of this year’s General Assembly, State Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, was largely known for one thing: his "cease and desist" bill aimed at halting construction on Kokomo Municipal Stadium.

The bill, SB 100, which would have given the Indiana Department of Homeland Security the authority to issue cease and desist orders, was passed by the Senate on Jan. 22 with a 41-8 vote. Following its passage, however, it was referred to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources, where it was held on Feb. 9.

That was where it stayed.

“Construction on the stadium has not stopped, and it is estimated by some accounts that it has accelerated,” said Buck during the hearing. “If there is an illegal activity going on, it is not uncommon to see a cease and desist order put in place.”

Initially filed on Jan. 9, Buck’s legislation came roughly three weeks after news broke that the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent letters to Kokomo on Nov. 24 informing the city of construction violations pertaining to eight parcels of land near the baseball stadium project.

"Right now, FEMA is threatening the state with a loss of federal dollars if this baseball stadium issue is not resolved, and we need to confront the situation," Buck said on Jan. 9. "I don't want people asking me about when I knew there was a problem when it becomes too late to do anything.”

Buck’s concerns were somewhat verified on Feb. 26, when the IDHS announced in a press release that FEMA had suspended all hazard mitigation grant awards to Indiana for the unresolved compliance issues with the baseball stadium project.

At the time, IDHS had about $5.5 million in mitigation grant funds set to be affected by the decision.

“It’s something I feared would happen,” said Buck on Feb. 26. “I hoped it wouldn’t happen. I don’t know how much of this will be resolved, but I think everybody thought FEMA wasn’t serious. … Evidently it wasn’t political, it was very real. We could have resolved this months ago before these monies were spent. I know at this time of year many communities need those funds, and need them desperately. I’m just very saddened.”

Despite Buck’s concerns and FEMA’s action, however, Natural Resources Chairman Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, and other committee members ultimately chose not to award the bill a second committee reading – a decision that sealed the fate of SB 100.

Despite repeated requests for comment, Buck did not make himself available for this story.

Buck’s Authored Bills

SB 8: Death Penalty Aggravator

Focus: Makes a murder conviction eligible for the death penalty if the murder involved attempted or completed decapitation while the victim was alive.

Final Action: Signed by the speaker

SB 12: Judicial Retirement Age

Focus: Requires Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges to retire at 80 years of age.

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Judiciary

SB 24: Selection of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Focus: Allows the state superintendent of public instruction to be appointed by the governor after Jan. 10, 2021. Provides that, after the same date, the governor appoints the members of the education roundtable and the superintendent serves as the chair.

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure

SB 52: State Response to Federal Environmental Policies

Focus: “Establishes the federal natural resource policy account for influencing, litigating, or mitigating federal natural resource policy decisions.”

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Environmental Affairs

SB 53: Approval of Annexation Agreements

Focus: Establishes requirements for annexation agreements.

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Local Government

SB 72: Motor Vehicle Manufacturer Sales

Focus: Requests study committee for the task of studying motor vehicle sales from a manufacturer directly to a consumer.

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures

SB 127: Religious Exemption in State and Local Contracts

Focus: Disallows prohibition of giving a preference in employment to individuals of a particular religion or requiring that all employees conform to religious tenets.

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Judiciary

SB 185: Developmental Disability Care Provider Tax Credit

Focus: “Provides a tax credit against adjusted gross income tax liability for donations to a qualified developmental disability care provider.”

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy

SB 211: Debt Collection

Focus: Amends the statute concerning deceptive consumer sales.

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Judiciary

SB 221: Annexation

Focus: Provides for five adjustments to annexations occurring after May 15.

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Local Government

SB 242: Motor Vehicle Title Fraud

Focus: Defines a motor vehicle to include a vehicle that is “titled by an individual using a federal identification number issued to a business entity.”

Final Action: Referred to House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code

SB 282: Unclaimed Property Act and Savings Bond

Focus: Provides that United States savings bonds are presumed abandoned three years after they stop earning interest.

Final Action: Signed by the governor

SB 295: Deduction for Small Business Investor Income

Focus: “Provides an individual income tax deduction for small business investor income received from Indiana small businesses.”

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy

SB 296: Adult Entertainment Performers

Focus: Requires holder of a retailer’s permit that provides adult entertainment to require dancers to possess licenses; take pictures of each dancer; require dancers sign acknowledgement of human trafficking; display human trafficking posters; and cooperate with law enforcement investigations.

Final Action: Referred to House Committee on Public Policy

SB 332: Wage Assignments

Focus: “Allows a wage assignment for the purchase price of goods and food offered by an employer and sold to the employee for the employee's benefit, use, or consumption.”

Final Action: Referred to House Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions

SB 352: Identifying Information for Adoptions

Focus: Provides that identifying adoption information may be released unless a nonrelease document is on file.

Final Action: Referred to House Committee on Judiciary

SB 361: Defense to Liability Concerning Liquefied Petroleum Gas Providers

Focus: Allows petroleum gas providers to utilize affirmative defense in any action brought against the provider if a person assumed the risk of causing bodily injury because of certain actions taken.

Final Action: Signed by the president of the Senate

SB 426: County and Township Assessor Qualifications

Focus: “Removes requirement that a candidate for county or township assessor must attain a certain level assessor-appraiser certification.”

Final Action: Signed by the president pro tempore

SB 456: Unemployment Insurance

Focus: Allows for any part of an unemployment insurance surcharge to be divided in new ways based upon interest paid on the advance made to the state.

Final Action: Referred to House Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions

SB 480: Nomination of Candidates for U. Senate

Focus: “Provides that a political party with a certain threshold number of members of the General Assembly is required to nominate its candidate for United States Senate by a caucus consisting of all the members of that political party who are also members of the General Assembly."

Final Action: Referred to Committee on Elections

SB 481: Stormwater Drain Maintenance

Focus: Urges legislative council to assign the topic of maintenance of stormwater drains in subdivisions not located with a municipality.

Final Action: Referred to House Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures

SB 514: Vacancy in Office of Clerk-Treasurer

Focus: A town legislative body member may serve ex officio as the town clerk-treasurer for the remainder of the clerk-treasurer's term if the town is unable to fill the vacancy.

Final Action: Signed by the speaker

SB 528: Preservation of Public Records

Focus: Changes name of State Commission on Public Needs to Indiana Archives and Records Administration.

Final Action: Signed by president pro tempore

SB 546: Abortion Matters

Focus: Amends the definition of “abortion clinic.”

Final Action: Signed by the president of the Senate

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George Myers covers city and county government. He joined the Kokomo Tribune on November 18, 2014.

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