Note to reader: This is part of a three part series focusing on changes to our laws from the legislative session. This week focuses on veterans, part two will focus on education, and part three will focus on jobs.
Around this time of year, the weather tends to shift from temperate to hot. Like many, when I think of July, barbecues by the pool, sparklers set alight and front-row, grass-covered seats to incredible firework displays come to mind. While the increase in temperature is typically welcomed, especially for those attending poolside barbecues, the weather is not the only change that July brings.
Many of the laws that we passed this legislative session went into effect on July 1. In the coming weeks, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight several of these new laws that may affect you.
With Independence Day just around the corner, I believe now is the perfect time to mention several of Indiana’s newest laws that aim to benefit those who have selflessly sacrificed so much for our great nation serving in the military. Much of what we have today is a result of veteran sacrifice – including our independence. We would not be the freest nation on earth without the price they paid, and this session, the Legislature continued to show its gratitude for their service by passing new laws that work to benefit veteran heroes.
Previously, no law qualified veterans to receive in-state tuition rates if they moved out of Indiana or were stationed overseas. With Indiana’s National Guard being the fourth largest in the United States and since many veterans call Indiana home, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 177 was championed this year, expanding in-state college tuition opportunity to those selfless heroes.
The law allows honorably discharged veterans and active National Guard members to receive in-state tuition if they enroll in a state college within a year of moving to Indiana. Veterans wishing to apply must enroll in a state college no later than 12 months after they are discharged from the military. I was a major supporter of this bill as it works to provide veterans with more tools so they can seamlessly transition from active service to civilian life.
Another new law, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1486, aims to help returning veterans in the emergency response field. Overwhelmingly supported, HEA 1486 designates that the state will now provide Emergency Medical Technician certification for returning Hoosier veterans that have received tactical emergency medical training during their military career. Additionally to SEA 177, this law works to provide veterans with another job opportunity as they transition back into civilian life by allowing them to keep our communities safe and operate in a capacity they are familiar to.
Returning Hoosier veterans experience diverse challenges in joining the private sector and civilian life. As the unemployment rate for these individuals is double the state average, we are working to bring that number down by incentivizing veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs). Under SEA 564, the state has a goal of procuring at least 3 percent of the state’s contracts with VOSBs. Highly-skilled Hoosier veterans have the tools to succeed in today’s competitive job-market, and Indiana wants to ensure that happens.
As the temperature continues to increase and fireworks soar overhead, I encourage you to remember the incredible sacrifice that veterans paid so that we might know freedom. You can find more information on the laws I have discussed today by visiting www.in.gov/legislative. Next week, I will be focusing on new laws dealing with education.
As always, I appreciate those who have contacted me with their questions and concerns, so please continue to let me know how I can best serve you or if you have any questions regarding these new bills. I am available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 317-232-9643.