Session is over but there’s still work to do

Posted by: Brenda Holmes  | Wednesday, March 28, 2018

During the 2018 legislative session, Indiana House Republicans passed new laws addressing k-12 funding, strengthening Indiana’s workforce, attacking the opioid epidemic and increasing government efficiency.

Indiana’s traditional K-12 public schools recently experienced an uptick in student enrollment, which caused a shortfall in the biennial budget passed during the 2017 legislative session. I co-authored a new law boosting funding for schools by up to $23 million this year, which is in addition to the $7 billion we already spend on K-12 education annually. This measure will help cover the estimated statewide funding need due to increased enrollment.

We are also connecting more Hoosiers with high-wage, high-demand jobs. The new law expands access to Workforce Ready Grants, which can be used to pay tuition costs for Hoosiers earning certificates through programs at Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University. The legislation also establishes a pathway for those enrolled as part-time, post-secondary students to participate in the Employment Aid Readiness Network Indiana Program. EARN is a need-based program that provides access to internships and offers incentives to employers.

We also passed laws to combat the opioid epidemic currently sweeping our state, including expanding opioid treatment programs. Opioid treatment centers will be pared with local hospitals and community mental health centers to provide wrap-around services. Nine additional certified community mental health centers or general acute care hospitals could be approved by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction to operate a new opioid treatment program after June 30, 2018. The measure also streamlines licensure and credentialing for mental health professionals.

I also supported two new measures reducing government bureaucracy by streamlining government operations and eliminating various reporting requirements.

One of these laws repeals seven chapters, 72 sections and 27 reports in the Indiana Code that are outdated, unused or duplicative. The measure also consolidates 35 standalone reports or reporting requirements into more accessible formats. The other law reduces the amount of required reporting for local governments, reducing publishing, mailing and clerical costs. The measure also allows for the electronic distribution of Indiana Code, cutting printing costs.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has called a special session to address a couple of issues left on the table at the end of our regular session.  In the area of schools and school safety, Holcomb is asking the General Assembly to increase funding for the Indiana Secured Fund by $5 million this year and in 2019, as well as allow school corporations to obtain funding advances for school security equipment.

The federal compliance issues he would like to see addressed would conform Indiana with federal tax reform changes by updating the state’s conformity date and to comply with IRS rules to protect federal taxpayer information and assure access to federal tax data.

The specific date for the special session has not been chosen but it will most likely be set around Technical Corrections Day, which is May 15. We will be working with the governor and the Senate to keep this special session focused on a short list of critical issues.

It is important that we stay connected. I encourage you to contact me with any questions or input at 317-232-9753 or at h65@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Chris May (R-Bedford) represents House District 65, which includes all of Brown County, most of Lawrence County and parts of Monroe, Jackson and Johnson counties.

A high-resolution photo of May can be downloaded by clicking here.