Session Snapshot (1/31/2014)

Friday, January 31, 2014 7:00 pm

Start Date:  1/31/2014  Start Time:  8:00 AM
End Date:  1/31/2014  End Time:  8:00 AM
The 2014 legislative session is already almost half over, which doesn’t even seem possible. It has been a whirlwind of activity, full of interesting debates and late nights. I’ve been working on a wide variety of topics, and I would like to share with you a few pieces of legislation I believe will greatly benefit our community and the rest of Indiana.

The bill I’m most excited about, House Bill (HB) 1323, allows universities to develop policies on their campuses about who can administer epinephrine and related training programs. It also provides civil immunity for anyone affiliated with a university that has established an epinephrine plan who administers an EpiPen to someone.  

As a former resident assistant at Purdue, I came into contact with many students who had life-threatening allergies and could have needed epinephrine administered at any time. Between 4 and 6 percent of a university’s population is at risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction, which is a pretty significant number. 

Many higher education institutions are apprehensive of creating policies to deal with this issue because currently there is no guarantee of protection if a faculty member or student employee were to incorrectly administer epinephrine in good faith. Fear of legal penalties should never prevent someone from saving a life.

I am a co-author of House Bill (HB) 1039, which passed unanimously out of the House and is now in the Senate. This legislation creates the Indiana Grown Initiative, a department that would market and promote Indiana-grown produce and agricultural products. This initiative would make the people of Indiana more aware of the great crops, other produce and hard work our Hoosier farmers provide to the rest of the state. 

My HB 1126 ensures that an employer who doesn’t make timely wage payments to an employee in bad faith may be ordered by a court to pay significant damages. The Indiana Department of Labor receives more than 2,000 wage payment complaints each year. This bill helps those employees get their back wages while protecting businesses that make an honest clerical error from frivolous law suits and ridiculous penalties.

This bill also allows employees to allocate a portion of their wages toward the purchase or use of uniforms or necessary equipment up to $2,500 per year, reimbursement for education or employee skills training, or an advance in payroll or vacation pay.

Another bill I co-authored, HB 1242, makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against prospective employees just because they are a veteran of the Armed Forces or member of the Indiana National Guard. 

Many businesses in Indiana do make a point to specifically employ veterans, but a stack of growing evidence suggests that some specifically avoid hiring them due to their veteran status. Hoosier veterans have sacrificed a great in service to our country and deserve the chance to find high-quality civilian employment without the added difficulty of discriminatory hiring practices.

This is just a snapshot of the issues I’ve been working on this session. The deadline for House bills to be heard is eminent, so very soon we will start getting bills from the Senate. We are making great progress for our state, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish over the next two months.

Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.