Lehe: Session ends with support for rural Indiana

Posted by: Jessica Bruder  | Monday, May 13, 2019

The 2019 legislative session has come to a close, with all legislation making it through the process now signed into law by the governor. Legislators worked hard on important policies on behalf of Indiana’s rural communities, including new laws allowing industrial hemp to be grown and expanding broadband to unserved regions of the state.

Industrial hemp is a strain of the Cannabis Sativa plant and was recently legalized by Congress in the federal farm bill.  The plant cannot be used as a recreational drug due to its low THC levels. Indiana soil is well-suited for industrial hemp production, and its fibers and seeds can be processed to create textiles, paper, building materials and food supplements.    

To set the stage for this new industry, a new law I supported creates guidelines for hemp growth in Indiana. The law removes industrial hemp from the banned substances list, and creates an advisory committee to provide oversight and advice on Indiana’s hemp laws. It also requires those who sell agricultural hemp to have a distribution permit, and establishes an expiration date for hemp licenses and hemp seed production licenses.

Reliable internet has become an important part of everyday life. However, many rural communities across Indiana lack the necessary infrastructure for high-speed internet connection. To help more Hoosiers get access to fast and reliable service, I supported a new law expanding broadband to unserved and underserved areas.  

Because rural communities are less populated, installation of fiber optic cable in these areas can be expensive. This law will allow telecommunications companies to tap into rights of way owned by the state for a reasonable fee. The law also outlines the framework for the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program. Last year, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced this $100 million initiative to expand broadband to unserved and underserved regions. These funds will help significantly in offsetting the cost of broadband projects across the state.

These measures are important steps toward improving the lives of Hoosiers in rural communities. If you have questions about these new laws and others, please reach out to me by emailing h25@iga.in.gov or by calling 317-234-2993. You can also sign up for my electronic newsletter by visiting www.in.gov/h25.

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State Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) represents House District 25, which
includes portions of Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Tippecanoe and White counties.
Click 
here for a high-resolution photo of Lehe.