McNamara: Goals met during 2016 legislative session

Posted by: Jessica Bakeer  | Thursday, March 17, 2016

During the short session, the Indiana General Assembly accomplished a great deal. I focused on policies concerning dual-credit teaching requirements, human trafficking, overdose intervention drugs and the foster care program.

House Enrolled Act 1370 requires the Commission for Higher Education to create a study program aimed at providing incentives for high school teachers who obtain their master’s degree and at least 18 graduate credit hours in order to teach dual-credit courses. In addition, the commission must ensure that there are opportunities for students to obtain college credits while in high school. Dual-credit courses benefit students by allowing them to cut future tuition costs, while giving them the opportunity to get a head start on their college education. Ensuring that our educators are able to teach these classes will provide students with career advantages, as well as assist teachers with keeping their qualifications.

House Enrolled Act 1199 creates a harsher punishment for those promoting human trafficking. It requires traffickers, who are arrested and sentenced, to register as sex offenders on the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry. After serving their sentence, offenders will be placed in either a community transition program, a community corrections program or probation, and then are required to register as a sex offender for either 10 years or a lifetime.

House Enrolled Act 1069 allows the juvenile court and the Department of Child Services to issue protective and restraining orders against an individual threatening the well-being of a foster family. Foster parents create safe environments for children who have lived in unfortunate circumstances, and they are entitled to resources that will safeguard their family from violence.

Senate Enrolled Act 187 also gives families an opportunity to provide safety for their loved ones. This legislation will help reduce fatal overdoses in Indiana by allowing family members, concerned friends or other loved ones to purchase Narcan, a life-saving medicine, without a prescription. This overdose prevention drug is safe, non-addictive, reverses the effects of overdoses and helps keep individuals breathing normally. This measure would require the Indiana State Department of Health to issue a statewide standing order for drugs like Narcan, which contain naloxone, to be sold over the counter at pharmacies. This will permit Hoosiers to act quickly in the event of an emergency and hopefully save a life.

I also, supported a plan to address Indiana’s immediate infrastructure needs. House Enrolled Act 1001 gives $186 million to a local road and bridge matching grant account, while redirecting 1.5 cents of the 7 cents of sales tax on gasoline to the matching account. It also gives approximately $328 million to state road and bridge preservation and maintenance over the next two years. In addition, about $505 million in local option income tax reserves currently held by the state will be returned to local units with $330 million dedicated to roads. Lastly, House Enrolled Act 1001 creates a task force to study state and local road funding needs and options this summer, so that in upcoming years we can create a long-term road funding solution.

At this point, the governor has three choices concerning these enrolled acts. He could sign them into law, he could veto the enrolled acts, or he could let the enrolled acts become law without his signature. Visit www.in.gov/gov/2016billwatch to learn about the status of these proposals for new laws. If you have any questions or input, please contact me at h76@iga.in.gov or by calling 1-800-382-9841.

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Rep. McNamara (R-Evansville) represents portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.