Note to the Editor: This is part of a three-part series regarding the bills on the 2015 House Republican Legislative Agenda. This week’s column concentrates on public safety.
As parents, our first concern is always the safety of our children. We want them to grow up in a best environment, free from the threat or harm, and would do anything to keep them safe. The same is true as your state representative. One of my top priorities this session is working to pass legislation that increases public safety, which for me begins during a child’s early years in life.
Working towards this goal, House Bill (HB) 1004 would establish the Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) grant program and fund. This bill would allow eligible groups to apply for a grant that would be used to reduce infant mortality in their area. According to the ISDH, Indiana is ranked 45th in the nation for our infant mortality rate, which is unacceptable and requires everyone working together to resolve. Through the Safety P.I.N. program, groups will be able to present their solutions and carry out their plan to help combat infant mortality.
Next to this issue, unfortunately, domestic violence is also something that Indiana is struggling with. According to the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 1,800 domestic violence victims were denied shelter because programs were over capacity over the course of a year. HB 1007 would work to double domestic violence funding from $2.5M to $5M. This additional funding would assist programs that shelter and work towards the recovery of victims of domestic violence – men, women and children alike.
Along with protecting Hoosiers, we must also work to make our communities a better place to live and raise a family. HB 1006 would create a $50M grant program to assist with the establishment and maintenance of community corrections programs. This legislation would also support communities and counties to develop and maintain alternatives to incarceration. Lastly, HB 1006 works to reduce of recidivism, which continues to be an issue. House Republicans are working towards combating these issues now to ensure the safety of future generations.
Part of making our communities a safer place for Hoosiers is ensuring that everyone has access to information and resources when they are in need. HB 1010, Connect2Help 2-1-1, would add domestic violence and infant mortality to the list of issues for which the dialing service 2-1-1 must provide information and assistance on.
Indiana 2-1-1 quickly and conveniently facilitates connections between people in need and the agencies and services best suited to help their situation. This bill also works to provide $2M per year to fund the service providers, which currently is supported through charitable donations. Over the past year, 2-1-1 has served more than 600,000 callers in need of services like victims of natural disasters.
I am proud to make public safety a top priority this session so both your family and mine can feel more secure in our communities and homes. Next week, for part three of this series, I will be focusing on bills to reform our election process and increase transparency for Hoosiers.