State Rep. Mark Pody said he's looking forward to the upcoming state legislative session and some changes anticipated in procedure, as well as legislation, he thinks might benefit the people he represents in the 46th District.
"We will have a couple of unique things," said Pody, R-Lebanon. "Jan. 8, there will be changes in how bills are introduced."
He said beginning with the new session, every representative will be allowed to introduce just 10 bills per year.
"This will cut down on the whole number of bills," he said. "Last year, there were 3,500 bills in total. This will cut that by a lot."
Pody also said many legislative committees will be restructured, eliminated or consolidated.
"The speaker is re-doing a lot of the committees," he said. "I was on the commerce committee and the employment affairs committee. Both of those committees are gone now, and the speaker is trying to make sure all the new committees are divided more equally with a more equal number of bills per committee. This should make it a lot better and give us more time to study bills, which is a good thing."
Pody said he will continue to seek a wide range of opinions about bills upon which he will be voting.
"Since I was elected, I met with people - Republicans, Democrats, independents, teachers, law enforcement officers and business people - to review every single bill I vote on. They do their homework and tell me how each bill will affect them," he said. "I represent everyone by reaching out to everybody. I don't expect them to agree with each other or with me, but I want to know how it will affect them."
Pody said there are two bills he's eyeing. One is a proposal to expand Medicare, which he said sounds good but about which he is cautious.
"The feds said they would fund the expansion for three years at 90 percent then drop it down and let the states pick up the balance," he said. "I'm not sure about it, and I want to know the details."
He said he is wary of the federal government funding programs then walking away, leaving the states holding the bag.
Second, he is looking at proposed legislation concerning the rights of state gun owners. The proposed law would allow permit holders to take their guns to work. The question is whether allowing guns in cars is a matter of the employers being allowed to forbid guns on their property or if a car is an extension of the "Castle Doctrine," which views a car as an extension of a person's home. He said he favors the rights of gun owners in this case.
Pody is also looking forward to legislation concerning school vouchers and expanding charter schools.
"I've not seen enough information about these proposals," he said. "I'd like to give parents their choice about schools but not at the expense of gutting the public schools."
He is also excited about legislation being proposed by locals. He said Wilson County Register of Deeds Bev Spickard has two proposals by which he is impressed.
"He has sent two good bills to me," Pody said.
One bill stop companies from sending out letters, which some find misleading, that offer, for a high fee, to get copies of public record deeds when those same records can easily be gotten at a small fee from county offices. The other bill proposed by Spickard would stop companies from using a loophole to avoid paying fees to transfer deeds, losing revenue for the county.
"Bev sees what's going on, and he's bringing well-thought-out ideas," Pody said.
He said Lebanon City Councilor Rob Cesternino has also brought him an idea about new laws concerning where people can and cannot smoke on public property.
"I like it when people say 'Mark, here's something that will help.'" Pody said. "They are in the trenches and know what they are talking about."