By Kathy Kreag Richardson Indiana State Representative, District 29
This month marked the effective date of a number of new policies approved this past session. These new laws cover a wide-variety of issues on behalf of our state, communities and Hoosiers.
First and foremost, on July 1, Indiana began operating under another balanced budget. Lawmakers passed a fiscally responsible budget funding state operations for the next two years. This honestly balanced budget maintains healthy reserves and supports our top-rated business climate. In addition, we were able to increase funding for education, raises for police, programs for veterans, public safety and Hoosiers in need.
Under another new law, Hoosier students will now be taking a different statewide assessment test. The new test, ILEARN, will replace Indiana's ISTEP exam with a more efficient assessment that will better measure student growth. ILEARN will be given in a single testing window at the end of the school year and lower overall testing time.
Another new piece of legislation focuses on developing a strong and stable workforce and will help more Hoosiers fill the more than 30,000 open positions in our state. Indiana's unemployment rate remains lower than the national average. By providing Workforce Training Grants and aligning career and technical education programs, more Hoosiers can be hired and employers can succeed.
We all love our pets and can't bear the idea of anything happening to them. To make sure pets do no die because they are left in a hot vehicle, a new measure will provide immunity to anyone who rescues a pet trapped in hot vehicles. It is important to note that this immunity only applies in cases where a public safety officers is not able to immediately respond.
Here in Hamilton Country, we have more than 500 miles of trails. Another new measure creates the Indiana Bicycle Trails Task Force which will work to identify ways to improve and connect existing bicycle trails throughout the state. The task force will also make recommendations on how to increase bicycle safety on trails and roadways so that more Hoosiers can utilize these great assets.
So that law enforcement officers can better identify dangerous criminals and protect our communities, a new law will expand the use of DNA to solve crimes. The DNA sample would be taken through the use of a cheek swab and then run through a national database to pinpoint and stop criminals. The sample can now be taken upon felony arrest but used only after a court finds probable cause. This legislation is similar to that of laws in thirty other states.
These are just a few highlights of legislation effective July 1. Information about these laws and more can be found at iga.in.gov. If you have any questions about the above laws or any other legislation passed, I encourage you to contact me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 317-232-9677.
Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.