Supporting Hoosier children

Posted by: Kim Heffner  | Monday, March 9, 2015

The General Assembly has now entered the second half of the legislative session. The House passed 174 bills to the Senate for their consideration, and they sent us over 200 Senate bills to discuss. I am pleased that many of the bills we passed will have a positive impact in Indiana, especially for Hoosier children, and I was proud to champion one piece of legislation working towards this goal.

House Bill (HB) 1635, which I authored, establishes a dual language immersion pilot program for Indiana schools. It passed the House unanimously and has already had an initial hearing in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee. As society becomes more and more globalized, it is becoming increasingly important for our children to be educated with a view to the future, and with connectivity on the rise, language skills are more crucial now than ever before. Foreign language immersion is an effective way for students to learn a second language and this legislation begins the process of providing that option in our schools.

Both traditional school corporations and charter schools are eligible to participate in the pilot program. Approved languages for the pilot are Chinese, Spanish and French. Other languages may be added at the discretion of the Department of Education. The bill provides for the implementation of programs in either kindergarten or first grade with at least 50 percent of daily instruction in the foreign language. This ensures that children are immersed in the chosen language at a time when they are most easily able to acquire language skills, preparing them to excel in their professional endeavors.

HB 1016 is another bill that provides support for Indiana children. Among the 50 states, Indiana has an alarmingly high infant mortality rate. This bill contributes an innovative idea to help solve this problem by allowing newborn safety incubators to be placed outside police and fire stations, hospitals, and some non-profits as a safe place for abandoned babies to be placed. The goal of HB 1016 is to reduce the number of infants who die every year due to abandonment and exposure.

The incubators are climate controlled and set off an alarm in a nearby facility as soon as a baby is placed inside. A responder can then come get the infant immediately. This way, the abandoned baby is protected from the elements and placed in a safe environment while the identity of the person leaving the child is protected.

These are just two of the bills the House sent to the Senate in the first half of session. With each bill we pass, it is our priority to put the interests of constituents first and pass legislation that will improve the lives of Hoosiers. I value your continued communication on these and other matters concerning our state. I can be reached at 317-232-9643 or h91@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents portions of Marion and Hendricks counties. He also serves as Chairman of the Education Committee.