The 2015 legislative session is well underway. Although the House has already considered many bills, much more work is ahead of us as legislation continues to make its way out of committees and onto the House floor.
The House Republicans released our legislative agenda in October, and I am pleased public safety was included as a top priority. As a father and grandfather, I know how important safety is to every family. Hoosiers deserve to live in the safest communities and an environment that allows children to grow and flourish, without fear from threat or harm. I am confident that bills discussed this year will increase public safety and improve quality of life for all Hoosiers.
House Bill (HB) 1004 establishes the Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) Grant Program. Unfortunately, one baby dies every 13 hours in Indiana, and this program’s goal is to dramatically decrease that number. The program allows groups to present their ideas to reduce and prevent infant mortality in Indiana and would receive grants to implement them. The grants would be administered by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and has high flexibility to ensure that the most innovative proposals can be implemented. Each proposal must include a metric for lowering infant mortality, a target area for the proposal and a timeline for accomplishing the proposed metric. ISDH would award half of the grant money upon approval and the other half when the proposal’s effectiveness has been proven.
Another bill concerning public safety is HB 1007. This bill doubles Indiana’s funding for domestic violence prevention. Between July 2013 and June 2014, 1,743 victims of domestic violence were denied shelter due to overcrowding. The extra funding included in HB 1007 works to address this issue. Every Hoosier deserves to live in a safe environment, and I remain committed to making that a reality.
The final public safety initiative I would like to cover is HB 1010, known as Connect2Help 2-1-1. This bill recently passed out of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee as well as Ways and Means. It would expand the 2-1-1 dialing service to provide assistance on issues related to infant mortality and domestic violence.
Indiana 2-1-1 is similar to 9-1-1, except it is geared toward social services rather than immediate emergencies. This service facilitates quick connections between people requiring human services and those best suited to provide help in those situations. Last year, 2-1-1 provided assistance to over 626,000 callers, including the elderly. The 2-1-1 service is currently supported completely by charitable donations. Through HB 1010, $2 million per year will be allocated to funding 2-1-1 service providers, giving them the ability to assist even more Hoosiers dealing with public safety issues.
I am honored to serve as your representative and help pass legislation that improves our community and state. I encourage you to stay involved with session by visiting www.indianahouserepublicans.com or contacting me with your input at 317-232-9643 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I value your thoughts, opinions and suggestions and look forward to hearing from you this session.
Rep. Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents portions of Marion and Hendricks counties. He also serves as Chairman of the Education Committee.