Banks to serve on three panels
President Pro Tem David Long today appointed Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) to serve on three key Senate standing committees.Long (R-Fort Wayne) appointed Banks to serve on the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Education and Career Development; and Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs. He will also serve on the Senate’s Public Safety Subcommittee.Lawmakers formally organized for the 2011 legislative session on Nov. 16. They will reconvene on Jan. 5. “Senator Banks is a principled conservative who brings a unique professional background to these important Senate committees,” Long said. “His experience serving Hoosiers on the local level — including his former membership on the Whitley County Council and Northeast Indiana Workforce Development Board, among other community commitments - will be invaluable to our colleagues as we move our state forward.”Long said Senate leaders worked once again in bipartisan fashion to “combine lawmakers’ talents and passions” to help Indiana move forward on a variety of key issues, including passing a balanced budget, avoiding tax hikes, promoting economic development and job creation, improving education and developing a fair redistricting plan for legislative and congressional districts.Introduced legislation often impacts various policy matters of state government, Long said. However, he offered snapshots of what issues Banks’ committees generally address each legislative session:Agriculture & Natural Resources: Considers legislation involving Indiana’s livestock and farming operations, including the regulation, production and distribution of agricultural products, soil conservation, the state fair, and other related agricultural matters. The committee also handles a wide range of bills relating to Indiana’s wildlife and fisheries, regulation of invasive species, parks, trails and public lands, mining, water resources development and irrigation, forestry, environmental protection, energy conservation, quarantine issues, trespass laws and waste disposal.Education & Career Development: Reviews legislation related to the financing and operating of Indiana’s schools, including curriculum and graduation requirements; teacher recruitment and qualifications; school safety and workforce issues. Also considers higher education policy, focusing on accessibility, affordability and accountability.Homeland Security, Transportation & Veteran Affairs: Examines bills relating to public safety, including manmade and natural threats, statewide emergency notification systems and university and college law enforcement. Reviews legislation relating to the financing and maintenance of highways, byways and bridges, regional and state transit, regulation of motor vehicles and traffic ordinances. Also hears bills relating to veteran benefits and treatment.