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Directives focus on ethics, family, veterans, cutting red tape


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Gov. Mike Pence hands to Lt. Gov. Ellsperman one of several executive orders he signed as his first official acts of office.
PHOTO BY JOE HARPRING
Gov. Mike Pence hands to Lt. Gov. Ellsperman one of several executive orders he signed as his first official acts of office. PHOTO BY JOE HARPRING


Gov. Mike Pence issued 15 executive orders Monday, his first day in office, putting a number of his core political beliefs into action with directives on ethics, red tape, aiding traditional families and boosting jobs among military veterans.

The newly sworn-in Republican issued a directive requiring every state agency to appoint an ethics officer charged with promoting transparency and integrity in government. Pence’s order also calls on the state inspector general to hold an ethics conference each year to serve as a refresher course of sorts on the topic.

Pence also temporarily halted the creation of many new state regulations until his administration via the Office of Management and Budget can conduct a review of current rules and procedures “and recommend ways to reduce regulatory burdens” on the state economy.

The governor’s order has a number of exceptions, though.

Those include new regulations needed to create jobs, reduce state spending, repeal existing rules or address emergency health and safety issues. The state also will take the necessary steps to follow federal government directives as needed, Pence said.

Pence, saying he was shocked to learn several months ago that the unemployment rate among military veterans is about twice that of the average American adult population, also issued an order setting a goal of placing 3 percent of state procurement contracts with businesses owned by military veterans.

“It recognizes the higher-than-average unemployment among veterans and seeks to increase job opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship,” Pence said at an impromptu news conference.

During his campaign, Pence said such a rule directing more state contracts to veterans could pump at least $35 million into their businesses.

On families, Pence issued a directive calling on the Family and Social Services Administration, the state Department of Workforce Development, Department of Correction, the Criminal Justice Institute, the state Department of Child Services and Indiana State Health Department to “recognize the economic advantages that intact married families offer children” and assess the impact any new rules would have on such families.

The order, which Pence said isn’t aimed at demeaning single-parent families or others, requires the agencies to draft a so-called “family impact statement” as a tool that Pence said would ensure all families have a level playing field.

The new governor killed one executive order put in place during fellow Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration.

Pence said he was moving the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board from the office of the superintendent of public instruction to put it under the control of the governor’s office.

Pence, a Republican, denied the move had anything to do with trying to send a signal to Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.

Pence also created an Office of Energy Development to create a comprehensive energy plan for Indiana and a separate Office of Defense Development to boost the growth of defense industries within the state.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann will oversee the defense industry initiative, Pence said.

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