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  • 5/20/2018 The Legislative Council, on which I serve, recently met to assign topics for the General Assembly to study during the summer and fall months. Lawmakers will use this interim period to prepare for the 2019 legislative session and determine whether or not to pursue new laws based on their findings. These summer study committees play an integral role in the legislative process and help pave the way for lawmakers to address a variety of issues on behalf of Hoosiers. 

    Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world. To build on the state’s ongoing efforts to end human trafficking and get victims the help they need, the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code will be looking at the feasibility of establishing a program for helping adult victims of human trafficking. This program could be similar to how the Department of Child Services handles young victims of this crime. Members of this committee will also be determining whether state agencies would be in the position to provide oversight and administer programs to stop human trafficking in Indiana. 

    Those serving on the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services will be conducting an in-depth study of medically supervised therapies involving marijuana. With 29 other states and Washington, D.C., allowing the use of the marijuana plant for medical purposes, many Hoosiers want to know what direction Indiana will take.
  • 5/13/2018 

    Although my time as your state representative will come to a close in November, I am still working hard on behalf of our community. Friday, I was with fellow state lawmakers gathering at the Statehouse for a special session to complete important work. Time is being devoted to act on policies addressing new funding and loan options to improve school safety, important tax matters, a bill that will help schools monitor their fiscal health so they don’t fall into financial distress, and a technical corrections bill. 

    Gov. Eric Holcomb called for the special session in an effort to wrap-up a few critical issues that were left on the table when the regular legislative session concluded in mid-March. With an exception to the technical corrections bill, the four proposals being examined today were vetted through the legislative process, but due to time constraints, failed to receive an up-or-down vote. ?

    The day’s agenda included authorizing $5 million for additional school safety investments and creating a pathway for schools to borrow from Indiana’s Common School Fund for building improvements to increase school safety. We are also updating tax record-handling procedures and code based on federal requirements.

  • 5/6/2018 Effective teachers are one of the most important factors in student success. To help attract and retain the best educators in our schools, the state offers 200 scholarships each year to high-achieving high school and college students obtaining a teaching license.

    The Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship is awarded to top-performing students who commit to teaching in Indiana for five consecutive years. Recipients receive $7,500 per year for up to four years, which significantly helps cut college costs for those preparing to enter the teaching profession. To qualify, applicants need to either graduate in the top 20 percent of their high school class or earn a score in the top-20th percentile on the SAT or ACT.

    To continue receiving the scholarship while in college, recipients must earn a 3.0 cumulative GPA and complete at least 30 credit hours per year.
  • 4/30/2018 

    Indiana is home to more than 500,000 small businesses employing more than 1 million Hoosiers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Throughout National Small Business Week, April 29 through May 5, a variety of opportunities will be provided to help entrepreneurs succeed, and Hoosiers are being asked to consider how they can better support small businesses.

    While operating a new or small business is often a fulfilling career, it presents many challenges. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a variety of resources to help meet the needs of business owners. Throughout this week, the Small Business Administration will be conducting recognition ceremonies, educational and networking events, and resource fairs highlighting the services and resources available to owners of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

    A webinar for veterans who want to open a small business will take place on May 1. Also on that day, the Small Business Road Map Workshop will be held in Indianapolis, with mini information sessions and opportunities to connect with organizations helping small businesses for free. There will also be a National Small Business Week Virtual Conference May 1-3. To register for these events and learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

  • 4/23/2018 Indiana Grown recently reached a milestone, with 1,000 members joining the program since being launched three years ago. This statewide agriculture initiative helps consumers more easily identify and purchase products grown, raised, produced and processed in Indiana, while assisting members with marketing their goods.

    Hoosiers spend $16 billion a year buying food, but less than 10 percent of that amount goes toward locally sourced products. With Indiana Grown, consumers can better identify local products at kiosks and in grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets, convenience marts, wineries and breweries, as well as online. Indiana Grown products can be marked with an identifiable label and logo, and include a variety of purchasable merchandise like fruit, candles and lumber.

    In Hamilton County, Indiana Grown members include Grilliant Foods, KingCal Kitchen, Old Picket Fence Antiques, Legacy Images, and Trietsch Farms. Information on these and other Indiana Grown members can be found at www.IndianaGrown.org. Recipes made with fresh Indiana Grown products, a local shopping guide and community events are also featured on this site.
  • 4/16/2018 April is National Financial Literacy Month and a good opportunity to become more educated on how to better manage our money. From balancing check books to understanding interest rates and avoiding scams, understanding personal finances is key to making important decisions. The state offers a variety of resources to help Hoosiers become more financially fit and responsible stewards of their fiscal futures.

    Whether a child just starting out with a piggy bank or an adult applying for a mortgage, the Indiana MoneyWise Financial Education Program promotes financial literacy for Hoosiers of all ages. At no cost to taxpayers, this program offers interactive learning tools and resources.

    Teenagers can develop basic financial skills, including how to set up a budget, pay for higher education, invest, establish long-term goals, build credit, manage credit cards, rent property and pay utilities. Adults can better understand retirement options, refinancing tools and mortgages. There are even tips for newlywed couples to follow and ideas for helping children understand money management.
  • 4/8/2018 Indiana is home to more than 400,000 veterans, and state policymakers continuously work to enact legislation attempting to repay the debt we owe to those who protect our nation. This legislative session, we continued building on our efforts to support veterans and their families by enacting new laws on behalf of student military members, those who will be serving aboard the USS Indiana and others who are living with physical disabilities.

    Many members of the National Guard and armed services also pursue college degrees while serving. Because their education can be disrupted when called to active duty, a new law requires state colleges and universities to provide these military college students a tuition refund, tuition credit or the opportunity to reenroll in their incomplete courses. Those who want to protect our country should not have to choose between their desire to serve and their drive to further their education.

    The new law also stipulates state colleges and universities must exclude certain federal benefits when calculating needs-based financial aid eligibility on behalf of military students. This will make it easier for veterans to qualify for educational assistance.
  • 4/1/2018 Opioids, both prescribed and taken illicitly, are the main causes of drug overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Indiana among the states with "significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2015 to 2016." This legislative session, state lawmakers took additional steps to help combat opioid addiction from every angle. From curbing the supply to strengthening enforcement and expanding treatment options, I supported new laws to save more lives and end the cycle of addiction.

    Opioids are painkillers that can be highly addictive. While opioids include illicit drugs like heroin and carfentanil, they are also prescription medications like vicodin and oxycodone used to treat pain. Starting in July, health care professionals throughout Indiana will begin checking the state's prescription monitoring system, INSPECT, before prescribing potentially addictive medications. A similar database, NPLEx, has been instrumental in the fight against meth labs because it tracks Indiana's cold medication purchase limits, helping prevent meth cooks from obtaining crucial meth-making ingredients.

    By consulting INSPECT, pharmacists and doctors will be able to determine if a patient is "doctor shopping" for multiple, simultaneous prescriptions.
  • 3/25/2018 

    The 2018 General Assembly officially adjourned sine die at midnight on March 14. Among important policies enacted are new laws addressing K-12 funding, strengthening Indiana’s workforce, attacking the opioid epidemic and increasing government efficiency.

    With our schools experiencing higher-than-expected enrollment, I co-authored a new law boosting funding for our K-12 schools. The nearly $100 million in funding will come out of the state tuition reserves. This increase will be in addition to the $7 billion the state annually dedicates to K-12 education. 

    This is an exciting time in Indiana as employers continue to invest in our state and grow the economy. We need to ensure Hoosiers are filling the high-demand, high-wage positions offered by these job creators. Indiana currently invests $1 billion in 30 workforce programs annually across nine separate state agencies.

  • 3/19/2018 Indiana is facing a serious foster home shortage. With more than 23,000 Hoosiers in foster care, there are more children in the child welfare system than available foster families. Every child deserves a loving and supportive home filled with compassion and care. This session, I supported proposals for new laws to help foster students better succeed in school and to give Hoosier foster parents a voice.

    Statistics show children in the foster care system are more likely to have truancy issues and less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. Oftentimes, these children are removed from their homes due to traumatic circumstances. Once placed into the foster care system, they may live through sporadic home and school transfers as well as the unfamiliarity that accompanies new homes and communities. These experiences can be discouraging to students in the foster care system and put them behind academically.

    Currently, the Department of Child Services does not share data about a foster child’s situation with the child’s school. Consequently, educators may be unaware of the child’s personal challenges and they may fall through the cracks. A policy in the hands of Gov. Eric Holcomb to consider signing into law will task DCS with coordinating with school officials to ensure children in the foster care system are better served. This will give teachers the information needed to help vulnerable students and greatly improve their educational outcomes.
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Monday, May 21, 2018

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