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January 6, 2015 • Headlines

Prosecutor Ric Hertel was sworn into office by Judge Bob Freese of Hendricks County at the courthouse annex Wednesday afternoon. Hertel had requested Freese. Hertel had worked for him when he first became a prosecutor.
The new sheriff, Jeff Cumberworth was sworn into office by Judge James Morris, which was one of his last official duties as judge. With Sheriff Rodney Stratton in the background and amidst his family and friends, Jeff Cumberworth swears to uphold the office to the best of his ability.
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County officials sworn in…
Local legislators begin 119th session

Mary Mattingly

The 119th Indiana General Assembly convenes Jan. 6 but local legislators are already preparing bills for the session.
Randy Frye, District 67, which includes most of Ripley County among other counties, has nine bills drafted. The third term representative is chair of the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety committee and also on Roads and Transportation committee and Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications committees. Last session, he had bills pass that promoted natural gas and propane, which could benefit Ripley County’s schools for bus use, he said. As for this session: “I’d like to see US 50 upgraded. It still looks like it did when I was 10 years old! Without infrastructure upgrades, though, you can only get so much traffic and tourism. And, that’s why we don’t see economic development here,” Frye said in a recent conversation with Ripley Publishing about the upcoming session.

Chip Perfect


Pictured left, State Sen. Chip Perfect (center) takes the oath of office in the Senate Chamber at the Indiana Statehouse, Nov. 18. He is standing with other newly elected state officials who were sworn in by Indiana Supreme Court Justice Loretta Rush.

State Senator Chip Perfect, District 43, is new to the senate floor. He was elected Nov. 4 in the seat formerly occupied by Sen. Johnny Nugent who retired. The district includes eight townships in Ripley County. The Republican from Dearborn County has attended the legislative services training for new officeholders. He was there on organization day Nov. 18 and is impressed with the level of commitment from the senators.

“It’s exciting, and very complicated. I guess if solutions were easy they would have been solved,” he said. “We know things are complicated with the walls of government as it gets bigger and bigger and more involved. The biggest surprise to me is it is even more complex than I expected! There are not just two sides to every issues, but four or five sides.” However, his legislation philosophy is less legislation. “I’m a small government guy and that’s what I campaigned on.” He plans to take a backseat and soak in the process initially. “ I think the freshman legislator’s role is to learn the process and voice concern when you can, and evaluate in perspective what is good for the community. I’m not in a hurry to offer legislative that isn’t critical. It’s not a priority to have my name on it.”

State Senator Jean Leising also represents a portion of Ripley County, Adams and Laughery Townships. The Oldenburg senator has been appointed chair of the agriculture committee and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. “I am honored and excited to take on these new leadership positions,” Leising said. She will also serve on the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development, the Senate Committee on Utilities and the Senate Committee on Commerce & Technology.

Several different organizations have released agenda priorities for the session. For example, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce wants more of the sales tax revenue going to roads, and they want the superintendent of public instruction to be appointed rather than elected. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education wants to see more Hoosier adults obtaining post high school degrees and to create a path for those who stopped schooling or dropped out.

The Indiana Republican Caucus pledged to pursue a budget that did not raise taxes, fix the school funding formula, strengthen disclosure laws for legislators and address infant mortality in Indiana. House Republicans want to reduce education overhead, focusing dollars on the classroom and providing teachers with tax credits.

A survey from Ball State University showed that the No. 1 issue is “bringing more jobs to the state.” Education though has been highlighted as a priority from the governor and Republican majority party. Frye, a Republican, said the school funding formula would be addressed. “It disadvantages rural schools. That’s not a question but a fact. The speaker of the house announced we would be addressing the funding and schools like South Ripley, Milan, JCD and Batesville will benefit from it. I have additional legislature for school funding if it does not go far enough.” A preschool pilot program funded by the state was initiated last year, and Frye says it needs to be evaluated before expanding it.

Perfect, also a Republican, agrees that the formula is not fair to rural schools. He’s a former teacher and said it “was the hardest job I ever had.” He submitted his committee assignments for agriculture and natural resources. Those were his natural interests, since he lives on a farm and is in the ski business, as owner of Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg. “I’m dealing with natural resources all the time, so those were obvious choices.” He was also appointed to the labor and pension committee and local government committee. He represents eight townships in Ripley County.

Legislators often live in Indy or commute during the four-month session. Last winter, the snow cancelled a day of the session. Perfect is not concerned about snow and getting there. The more snow the better for business in general. “I make my living driving in the snow, so I think I’ll be okay in that regard!” This is a longer session because they will adopt a two-year state budget. It will end late April.

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• CALENDAR: Local meetings; January meeting changes (front page)
• Photos of Ripley County officials sworn in (front page and page 10)
• Ripley County receives Rising Sun Regional Foundation (RSRF) grant money (front page)

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