Local lawmakers preview upcoming legislative session in Indy

Updated: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:20 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -2 members of the Indiana state legislature stopped by South Bend to preview the upcoming session.

State lawmakers will officially reconvene at the Capitol on Jan. 9 to start the legislative process.

We had two different perspectives give their takes on this upcoming session, one a Republican in the House, the other a Democrat in the Senate.

Both Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) and Sen. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) say January will start with a heavy focus on the economy, especially as they write the state’s budget for the next two years.

They expect record investment in K-12 education, which includes an emphasis on training and retaining quality teachers.

This piqued the interest of several superintendents from nearby school corporations that were in attendance.

Senator Niezgodski says our area could benefit from getting support for students interested in skilled trade programs along with traditional classroom learning.

“It’s not just the need that you have to go to a college or university. They have many choices. You have to make them feel like they’re the most special people that you are thinking of,” he said.

Wesco says the state is in a strong financial position right now, which will lead to further discussion about what sectors need extra dollars to keep up with inflation.

With record-high inflation keeping the threat of a potential recession alive, Wesco pointed out a trend happening here in Michiana that doesn’t normally mean good news.

“There’s just a lot of reports out of Elkhart County about RV factories slowing down and taking extended periods off for the holidays. Generally, the RV industry is an indicator of what’s coming next with the economy,” Wesco said.

Niezgodski says the Indiana Senate was majority democrat when he was first elected, but now that’s an entirely different story.

Republicans outnumber democrats 40-10 in the Senate and 70-30 in the House, making it difficult to pass anything without republican support.

Niezgodski says he’s still able to advocate for those he represents by tackling issues that impact people on both sides of the aisle.

“There are so many issues that don’t have color, they don’t have politics, and they’re the same needs that you and I, democrat and republican—we all have similar needs. We need to learn how to message the way those needs need to be expressed,” he said.

January will mark the beginning of a long session that’s expected to wrap up in May.