a message from Rachel Leslie, Chief Executive Officer
Session was a little like a box of chocolates; you never knew what you were going to get. A little overused? Maybe, but an accurate description of the 2021/2022 budget session of the Indiana General Assembly. You were afraid to open the box, let alone bite into a chocolate ... you might get the nasty one with an unidentifiable filling, much like many of the bills and their amendments. However, in this case, there was no running away. In fact, if you did, something was (without a doubt) going to jump up and bite you.
As a lobbyist, this was a bad year to start in the business. With mostly virtual options for meetings at the start, the work being done happened via already established relationships, cell phones and text messages. As session moved on day-to-day and vaccines were more prevalent, in-person meetings started to take place and some form of the normal we knew returned, at least by a percentage.
To add to the abnormal session, lawmakers passed HB 1372 which allows them to recess, leaving the official end of session mid-November 2021. This additional time allows them to adjourn without special session processes with the goal of addressing redistricting, which will be its own political circumstance. However, Forrest taught us one thing, “What’s normal anyways?”
The success rate of session is in step with previous years. The Senate had an overall success rate of 24 percent, while the House had an overall success rate of 20 percent. Just over 1000 bills were filed and only 220 made it to sine die. One thing about session remained the same: there were winners and losers, and shrimping is tough.
So, what’s in store for the future of our state? The big news … the budget. That’s typically the talk, but this year more than others. With $3 billion in federal funding attached, lawmakers passed a two-year, $37 billion budget. The budget includes $500 million for a new regional economic development program, $250 million for broadband expansion grants and $160 million for water infrastructure grants. Indiana was successful in the federal allocations, but the investment isn’t from a fruit company. I wish it was. One less thing.
So, what do we do with this information? Be prepared to compete for resources to make our clients and communities better. Stay grounded and keep the magic shoes on both feet, keep our heads on a swivel and work harder, and harder.
“Now, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was goin’ somewhere, I was runnin’!” –Forrest Gump
The RJL team has their magic shoes on and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Rachel founded RJL Solutions in 2017 when she recognized the importance and value of advocacy and representation. The business began as an advocacy firm and has since expanded to include community development and marketing and strategic communications.
Rachel founded many influential programs throughout West Central Indiana including Terre Haute Women in Action, Wabash Valley Leadership Institute, and Terre Haute Young Leaders. Rachel participates on a number of community and state professional boards and committees, including the Terre Haute Regional Airport Board Authority, Indiana Defense Network, Indiana Defense Task Force, Indiana Chamber Board of Directors and more. Currently, she serves as President for the National Defense Industrial Association Greater Indiana Chapter.