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Burton’s bill adding civics test to high school government classes could soon be law

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

With support from the Indiana Senate and the House of Representatives, State Rep. Woody Burton’s legislation that would make the U.S. citizenship test a part of high school government classes could soon become law.  

According to a survey conducted by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, only a third of Americans could pass a multiple-choice U.S. citizenship test. Burton said without having a firm understanding of U.S. government and history, young Hoosiers may be at a disadvantage when engaging in their civic responsibilities.

“Whether discussing local issues or voting for their elected officials, it is critical all Hoosiers know the importance of their civic duty,” Burton said. “Our country’s history is very important, and knowing where we come from helps shape our future – especially in a democracy. Too often, we are so focused on moving forward to the next chapter of our lives, we lose sight of our past.” 

Under this legislation, the American citizenship test would be administered in a high school government class, which Burton said is already a requirement to graduate. Students would need to take the test in order to receive credit. According to Burton, this would ensure students gain this critical knowledge, without hindering their ability to graduate.

Senate Enrolled Act 132 is now eligible for action by the governor. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.

Reps. Burton, Young to host legislative update meetings

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

State Reps. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) and John Young (R-Franklin) will host a public meeting on March 16, to discuss the progress of the legislative session.

The meeting will take place from 1-3 p.m. at Franklin City Hall, located at 70 E. Monroe St.

“These meetings give us a chance to receive direct feedback from members of the community,” Burton said. “Hearing concerns from local Hoosiers helps guide us as we vote on important issues, and I encourage constituents to attend.”

Burton and Young will be available to discuss the legislative session and how potential new laws could affect Johnson County.

“This is a great opportunity to share thoughts on different bills moving through the legislative process,” Young said. “While there are many ways to provide input, we can directly interact with the public and field any questions during these meetings. I look forward to meeting with constituents and listening to their thoughts.”

Burton will host an additional public meeting that same day from 10 a.m. to noon at Greenwood City Hall, located at 300 S. Madison Ave. Another town hall meeting will be from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, at the Whiteland Town Hall, located at 549 E. Main St.

Other local elected officials have been invited to these meetings.

Those unable to attend can contact Burton or Young by calling 317-232-9600 to ask questions or provide feedback on potential new laws.

Johnson County representatives lace up sneakers to raise cancer awareness

Friday, February 22nd, 2019
Johnson County Legislators_Suits and Sneakers_Feb. 19

State Reps. John Young (R-Franklin) (left) and Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) (right) pair sneakers with their suits to draw attention to National Cancer Prevention Month Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. Each year, the Indiana House of Representatives participates in the Suits and Sneakers challenge, an annual event hosted by the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. According to the American Cancer Society, the death rate from cancer has dropped 19 percent in Indiana over the last 25 years. Local lawmakers encourage Hoosiers to take preventative steps like receiving regular cancer screenings to continue lowering this rate.

House advances Burton’s bill protecting property owners

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

 The House of Representatives voted in supported of State Rep. Woody Burton’s legislation protecting property owners from being held accountable for their tenants’ unpaid utility bills.  

According to Burton, smaller communities can pass ordinances that place the responsibility for tenants’ unpaid utilities on property owners. Burton said these local ordinances tie the hands of landlords who have limited options to prevent high bills.

“Aside from a lengthy and costly eviction process, property owners who are fully responsible for utility services have few options to prevent tenants from racking up excessive bills,” Burton said. “Unlike utility companies that are able to hold customers accountable by terminating services for nonpayment, landlords are stuck paying, even if they are not receiving money from their tenants.” 

Burton’s legislation would require municipally owned utility companies to bill renters directly for services for gas, electricity or water, unless the landlord and renter come to a separate agreement.

“Shifting the responsibility away from the tenant unfairly burdens the property owner,” Burton said. “While most renters pay on time and in full, some can rack up several months’ worth of unpaid bills that landlords could be held accountable for paying. This legislation would ensure that the person using the service, pays for the service.” 

House Bill 1347 can now be considered by the Senate. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.


Get the Facts

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Misinformation is a common problem in the modern era. Thanks to the internet and social media, it is easy for information about a variety of issues, including legislation, to be shared quickly and become distorted or inaccurate. It is like a game of telephone. A message can change many times before reaching you. The easiest way to ensure you have correct information is getting it from the original source.

The best place to learn about legislation working its way through the General Assembly is by visiting iga.in.gov. On this website, you can find the exact language of a bill and how it will appear in Indiana code. Committee hearings and session meetings are livestreamed and archived, so you can watch lawmakers discuss different bills and listen to public testimony. If you are passionate about a bill or topic being considered, you can also attend meetings in-person and testify in committee.   

If you read something about a bill or the work being done at the Statehouse, I encourage you to consider the source. Without fact-checking, you may only get a small snapshot of a proposal’s impact. Throughout session, groups send out mass emails or alerts, sometimes only sharing half the story in order to rally a large number of people in support or opposition of legislation.

A recent example of this is a bill concerning firearm training for teachers. I received over 100 emails about this legislation. Many constituents had been misinformed about what the proposal would actually do, and were led to believe it would put their children at risk by arming public school teachers. In reality, Indiana law already gives school boards the authority to allow specific teachers or administrators to legally possess a firearm while on school property. The legislation currently being considered would only allow school districts to apply for a grant from the Secured School Safety Grant Program so those choosing and permitted to carry on school property can complete a 40-hour training course.

I am a firm believer in taking the time to learn and understand what it means to carry a firearm. Not only do these courses provide training on how to fire a weapon, but they also teach school faculty how to operate in moments of crisis and great stress, like an active shooter situation.

I support this bill because providing proper training for teachers and school staff who volunteer to carry could add an important layer of protection for Indiana students. Unfortunately due to inaccurate information, a majority of our conversations concerning this bill have been spent dispelling rumors.

In order to prevent this from happening in the future, I recommend reaching out to me directly. I am always available to talk about legislation moving through the process. Before making any decision, I consider all of the feedback I receive from our community. You can contact me to ask questions or voice concerns by calling 317-234-3827, or emailing h58@iga.in.gov. To keep our community informed of the work I’m doing at the Statehouse, I often share updates on different bills being considered through my regular e-newsletter. To sign up to receive these, please visit www.iga.in.gov/h58.

While it may be tempting to take everything you hear or read at face value, it is always best consider the source and research the issue further to get all the facts.