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Legislative session wraps up

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

The 2019 legislative session has come to a close, with many proposals already signed into law by the governor. Lawmakers worked hard this session, putting Hoosiers first and passing sound policies moving Indiana forward. I tackled important issues to protect local property owners, support retired public employees and engage students in civics education.

A new law I authored protects property owners from being forced to pay tenants’ unpaid utility bills. In some areas, established ordinances make landlords responsible for utility payments, even when they are not the ones using a service. While most tenants pay on time, some can rack up costly bills. This law requires municipally owned utility companies to bill renters – not the property owners – directly for services like electricity, water or gas, unless the landlord and tenant come to a separate agreement. This can prevent landlords from being unfairly and unexpectedly stuck with high utility bills and late fees, and ensure those who use the service, pay for the service.

Another issue I am particularly proud to have worked on is providing further support to retired Hoosiers. I sponsored legislation to make important improvements to the public employee and teacher retirement funds, like allowing retired members to make partial withdraws from their annuity savings accounts. I also worked diligently to ensure public employee pension members receive a 13th check in 2019 and 2020. This additional check can help close the cost-of-living gap that pensioners often face. Because Indiana is fiscally responsible, we were able to allocate in our biennial budget this additional support to retired teachers, public employees, state excise police, gaming agents and conservation officers who dedicated their careers to serving Hoosiers.

I also sponsored a new law making the United States citizenship test a part of high school government classes. This test can be the same as the one taken by immigrants seeking to gain U.S. citizenship. After studies reveled less than one-third of Americans could pass a similar test, with nearly 90% of immigrants passing the exam, it became clear more must be done to ensure young Hoosiers have a firm understanding of our nation’s government and history. If we hold those seeking U.S. citizenship to this high standard, we should be asking the same of young Americans.

Even though the Indiana General Assembly has wrapped up its official legislative business for the year, I will continue working for you and your family. Sign up to receive my e-newsletter at www.in.gov/h58 to learn more about new laws and be informed about upcoming public meetings soon to be scheduled. I am also available to answer questions or address concerns at 317-234-3827 or h58@iga.in.gov

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.