Rushville Republican

Columns

September 10, 2013

Rural issues affect our local communities, entire state

As your state Senator, it is my duty to remind those in our state’s capital that many Hoosiers do not reside in larger cities, but rather, Indiana is comprised of quiet, rural communities. We must remember how legislation—both nationally and statewide—affects our smallest cities and towns. Although we are considered a rural state, those who call Indiana “home” value our diverse business climate, including advanced manufacturing, life sciences and yes, agriculture.

At a recent meeting of the Indiana General Assembly’s Rural Caucus, of which I am co-chair, I had an opportunity to tour the new Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The exhibition, titled the “Indiana Farming Experience,” gives a vivid account of the relationship between farmers and their land and how technology serves as a bridge between the two. This experience reminded me that agriculture is an ever-changing, growing industry.

After the tour, legislators heard an update from agriculture leaders on both the crop and livestock industries, as well as discuss rural-specific issues, such as transportation funding, the federal “farm bill” and Indiana’s rural first responders.

These are some facts that were shared:

Rural Indiana roads will receive a sizable funding boost.

Indiana is widely known as “the Crossroads of America.” To protect this legacy and maintain our infrastructure, we must fund Indiana’s roads. This year, the Indiana General Assembly modified our transportation funding formula for the first time in more than 30 years.

Not only did the legislature remove the state police, license branches and tax administrators from the previous road funding formula, but we also designated all motor fuel taxes and 1 percent of Indiana sales tax to be used for state and local roads. We made our small communities a priority by allocating $210 million statewide for local road funding, which is an increase of more than 25 percent.

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