Keeping Hoosiers safe

Posted by: Kim Heffner  | Friday, January 30, 2015

The 2015 legislative session is in full swing. Bills are making their way through the committee process and onto the House floor. Several months ago, the House Republicans released our legislative agenda for this session which included public safety as a top priority. Having served in law enforcement for 16 years, I have seen many of the public safety concerns that our district and the rest of Indiana face on a daily basis. I am confident that legislation introduced this year will better protect and improve the lives of Hoosiers across the state.

The Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee that I serve on recently passed House Bill (HB) 1010, one of our agenda bills, which will now go to the full House for further consideration and debate. This initiative, known as Connect2Help 2-1-1, would expand the assistance provided by the 2-1-1 dialing service to include infant mortality and domestic violence. Indiana 2-1-1 is similar to 9-1-1, but for social services. It facilitates quick connections between people requiring human services and those best suited to provide help. In fact, last year, 2-1-1 served over 626,000 callers who required human services, including the elderly and victims of emergency situations. Currently, 2-1-1 is supported through charitable donations, so under HB 1010, which would allocate $2 million per year in funding to 2-1-1 service providers, more Hoosiers will be able to find the assistance they need.

HB 1004 is another bill concerning public safety. It establishes the Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) Grant Program. One baby dies every 13 hours in Indiana, and the goal of this program is to dramatically lower that number. This legislation allows groups to apply for a grant to reduce and prevent infant mortality. The grant, administered by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), has high flexibility to ensure that the most innovative proposals can be implemented. The proposal must include a target area, a metric for lowering infant mortality in that area and a timeframe for the accomplishment. Half of the grant would be awarded upon approval of the proposal, and the other half after the ISDH has confirmed the proposal’s effectiveness.

In addition to these bills, HB 1007 doubles Indiana’s funding for domestic violence prevention. Between July 2013 and June 2014, 1,743 domestic violence victims were denied shelter due to program overcrowding. We must work to ensure resources are made available for victims of domestic violence and that those resources are being managed in the most efficient and effective manner. 

Personally, I authored legislation, HB 1434, regarding the Department of Child Services (DCS), which recently passed the House. This bill will help bring Indiana in line with federal requirements and allow us to continue to ensure the safety of children in the DCS system by implementing additional background checks on providers and host families. The bill also encourages productive operation of the DCS system through social work licensure exemption and repealing outdated and duplicative requirements among other things.

It is a privilege to represent you in Indianapolis, and I encourage you to stay involved with session by following bills on www.indianahouserepublicans.com and by contacting me with your questions and concerns. I value your input and will continue to keep your thoughts in mind as session continues. Please contact me at 317-232-9509 or at h31@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties. He serves as Chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. He also serves on the Family, Children and Human Affairs; and Insurance Committees.