STATEHOUSE (July 15, 2009) - In addition to his work to help give Indiana a responsible two-year state budget, Rep. Matt Bell (R-Avilla) was instrumental in several other new and important laws. Here is a brief look at some of the session's legislative highlights for Rep. Bell:
HEA 1286 (Charitable gaming) I co-authored this bill, which tightens the reins on charitable gaming and insures that only bona fide fraternal organizations will have the chance to operate annual gaming licenses. I believe charitable activities should continue to be supported, but only by people who are acting in good faith.
HEA 1581 (Financial Literacy) This bill, which I co-authored, will help Hoosier students approach their adult lives better-equipped to handle their personal finances. Indiana's public, charter and certified non-public schools will now provide financial literacy training for students in grades six through 12. They will learn important skills about financial responsibility through classes designed specifically for each grade level.
SEA 365 (Department of Child Services) The Department of Child Services now has improved means to protect the welfare of Indiana's most vulnerable. The law prevents convicted sex offenders from being a child's guardian, and it broadens the authority of DCS to investigate the well-being of children who may be in danger. I was a co-sponsor of this bill.
HEA 1455 (Providing autism training) Emergency first-responders now will be provided with autism training, which will better equip them to handle emergency situations involving people with autism. Autism is a developmental disability that affects a person's ability to interact with others. Because Indiana's autism rate is increasing, the state Department of Education will help train noncertified school employees about the early warning signs of autism.
HEA 1063 (Providing shelter for homeless young people) Homeless and runaway youth need not be without shelter. This new law, which I co-authored, allows emergency shelters or homeless shelters to serve runaway or unattached children. The law also protects shelter workers care for homeless or runaway youths from civil liability and frivolous lawsuits.
SEA 39 (Tuition exemption for Purple Heart recipients) I co-sponsored this legislation, which honors Hoosier heroes. Senate Enrolled Act 39 grants all Hoosier Purple Heart recipients free tuition to state colleges and universities. Previous law provided tuition to those who received the Purple Heart after Sept. 10, 2001, and the children of all Purple Heart recipients.