Major Issues Addressed at the Statehouse
Many pertinent issues have been discussed so far this legislative session. We have just passed the midway point; this is when all bills switch chambers. House bills that passed will move to the Senate and Senate bills that passed will move to the House for further debate.
We have worked hard the past few weeks to make sure all bills get a fair debate. There have been long days and late nights filled with ample discussion on the bills heard this legislative session. I would like to explain a few bills that I believe are going to make a big difference.
One positive bill that moved its way out of the House unanimously and is now being heard in the Senate is a bill pertaining to the Military Family Relief Fund. This is a great piece of legislation that extends the time that a service member or a service member’s dependent may be eligible to receive assistance from the fund. They will now have up to three years opposed to one.
I am sure many of you have seen the “Support Our Troops” license plates. Did you know that the Military Relief Fund is primarily self-funded through the sale of these particular plates? So, next time you are at the BMV, consider selecting this as your license plate and know that your money will be going toward a great cause.
Something you may have heard of lately, especially in the news, is the Anti-Human Trafficking legislation. This bill has already passed both chambers and was the first bill signed into law by Governor Daniels this year. Getting this legislation passed became a top priority because of the presence of the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
It is hard to believe, but cities that host the Super Bowl have had a rise in sex trafficking activity in recent years. Governor Daniels announced during his State of the State address that a tougher policy needed to be put into place to address this issue prior to the Super Bowl coming to town.
Even though this is something that happens in cities all across America, it is rarely talked about. We decided to take this issue on and it is now a Class B felony, which entails 6-20 years in prison, to force or recruit individuals to partake in prostitution, servitude or any sexual conduct that promotes human trafficking of a child under the age of 16. Furthermore, it will be a Class A felony, which entails 20-50 years in prison, to knowingly force a minor to participate in sexual conduct. Hopefully now, this will show people that these actions and this type of behavior will not be accepted in our state.
House Bill 1376 will be making a big difference in several lives. The state will be distributing 320 million dollar through this legislation. Specifically, it will double the amount of compensation available to State Fair stage collapse victims. It will also double the per student grant for full day kindergarten, improve the automatic taxpayer refund and maintain our commitment to send a portion of any excess reserves to the Pension Stabilization Fund.
Many constructive bills that will go toward improving and protecting the lives of Hoosiers across the state have passed out of the House so far. I look forward to many more bills being moved to the Governor’s desk and their implementation into Indiana law. I will continue to keep you posted on legislation and how it affects our state.
If you have questions about the bills being discussed this session please feel free to call my office and speak to my legislative assistant, Tom Havens, at 317-234-2993 or call toll-free at 1-800-382-9841.