What are your state legislators doing on your behalf? The Indiana House Republicans host a podcast each week to answer this question and talk about what’s happening in your state government. The podcast features one-on-one interviews with lawmakers who highlight new laws, events and other issues impacting Hoosiers.
House Republicans are hard at work on their legislative priorities for the 2021 session, including passing a responsible state budget, helping small businesses, investing in Hoosier students and supporting law enforcement.
Chief among these priorities is creating a fiscally responsible budget that makes key investments, while maintaining prudent reserves and our state’s AAA credit rating. Targeted investments include expanding rural broadband, so we can help close the digital divide for Hoosier students, workers and employers, and creating a new grant to help find solutions for Indiana’s most critical health challenges.
As businesses continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, providing civil liability protections for them, schools, health care entities and others will be critical to Indiana’s economic recovery. Additionally, enhancing the Small Business Restart Program would provide additional support to small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, which has been hit especially hard over the past year.
House Republicans are committed to ensuring all K-12 public school students receive full funding for the 2020-21 school year, whether they attended classes in-person or virtually due to COVID-19. Lawmakers are also calling for a one-time grant to help children combat learning loss they may have experienced as a result of the pandemic. Legislation would also ensure more families can exercise school choice and provide their children the best education.
Proposed legislation would also support law enforcement, and increase transparency and accountability in policing. House Bill 1006 would require full employment record sharing between departments to help law enforcement identify bad actors. The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board would also be given more flexibility to address significant officer misconduct. De-escalation training for new recruits and current officers would also be required. As part of the state budget, a one-time grant would create a program to help departments pay for body cameras for police officers.
As lawmakers take on these and many other important issues, there are multiple resources to help Hoosiers stay informed on proposals being considered.
Track legislation, and watch committee meetings and session live at iga.in.gov.
Keep up with what is going on at the Statehouse by signing up for your state representative’s email newsletter the bottom of the page at IndianaHouseRepublicans.com.
Indiana recently rolled out a plan to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, and Hoosier first responders, health care workers and those 80 years and older are currently eligible.
Visit ourshot.in.gov to find out if you are eligible, locate a nearby vaccination site and sign up for an appointment. Those who do not have access to a computer can call 211 to register from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily – including weekends.
This vaccine is administered in two doses, 21-28 days apart, and is available at no cost.
Family members can make appointments for loved ones who qualify. Individuals must bring their photo ID to the appointment. At the first appointment, Hoosiers will be required to schedule a time for their second dose.
In addition to wearing masks and social distancing, the coronavirus vaccine provides another level of protection to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Have you already received the vaccine? Make sure you’re on the v-safe after vaccination health checker, a smartphone-based tool that checks in on you after the vaccine.
From Churubusco to Evansville and Crown Point to Madison, counties, cities and towns across Indiana recently received more than $101 million for road and bridge projects through the Community Crossings Matching Grant program.
Eligible projects include:
- Road and bridge preservation;
- Road construction;
- Intersection improvements;
- Guardrail replacements;
- Americans with Disabilities Act compliance;
- Chip sealing expenses; and
- Crack sealing expenses.
Open to all local governments, the program is highly competitive. Each year there are two rounds of applications to spread out project proposals and allow more communities to apply. Click here for a list of recent recipients.
Cities and towns with a population less than 10,000 must contribute a 25% funding match, while larger communities must provide a 50% match. Half of the available funds must be awarded annually to municipalities with populations less than 50,000.
Applications for the first round of 2021 are now open. All materials must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29. Communities receiving funding will be notified in late winter or early spring. Learn more about Community Crossings on INDOT’s website.
Hoosiers with education beyond high school, whether a college degree or other form of credential, are best positioned to secure high-demand, high-wage jobs. In fact, those with additional education in Indiana earn up to $1 million more than those with only a high school diploma over their lifetime.
Our state is a popular destination for businesses to open up, bringing with them job opportunities and economic development. Your Next Step, a new program launched by the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, is a one-stop-shop for resources in Indiana, helping Hoosiers take advantage of these opportunities and take the next step in their career, education and life.
Your Next Step offers support for Hoosiers at any stage of employment and education level to find a job in today’s market, like resume building, job referrals and placement assistance, and insight on local demand in certain fields. Experts are also available to help determine what education and training options are best for jobseekers and could be available for little to no cost.
Need some more help before you can focus on pursuing education and training? Connections to other support like health care, childcare and local resources are also just a few clicks away.
To get started connecting to resources and see if you qualify to earn your credentials for free, visit YourNextStepIN.org.
Many Indiana companies have been contributing to the economy for more than 50 years, and some have been in operation for a century or longer. These local businesses provide much-needed jobs to Hoosiers, attracting top talent to communities and making our state one of the nation’s top places for business. Indiana honors these longstanding businesses through the Governor’s Century and Half Century Business Awards.
These awards recognize Indiana businesses that have remained in operation for at least 100 or 50 years, respectively, and are committed to serving the community. Business owners can read through the program criteria here, and submit an online application here.
While applications are currently being accepted, processing and reviewing each submission begins in January 2021. At this time, awards are being assigned on a rolling basis, and applicants should not delay in submitting an application. The winners will be recognized for their accomplishments later in 2021.
The challenges businesses have weathered over decades, including during the past year, is an achievement worth celebrating. For more information about the program, qualifying criteria and to start an application, visit the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s website.
Steadily dropping temperatures signal Old Man Winter will soon take up residence in the Hoosier state for the next several months. This means rising heating and electric bills could put some families in the position of making tough financial choices. Thankfully, Hoosiers needing assistance can obtain benefits through the Energy Assistance Program.
This one-time benefit, federally funded program can help with the high cost of home energy, and offers support to those about to be disconnected. The benefit does not cover all heating and electric costs, so those planning to take advantage of this assistance should continue paying their bills regularly. If all utility bills are paid on time, an additional benefit may be available.
Now through May 1, Hoosiers may apply for heating benefits. Click here for eligibility requirements and more information.
Many Indiana utility companies also offer additional resources to assist low-income customers. Click here to learn more about these companies and other organizations assisting Hoosiers with their heating bills like Duke Energy’s Helping Hand program, South Central REMC’s Operation Roundup program and Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s Winter Warmth Program.
Hoosiers unsure who to contact about heating assistance or in need of other resources should call 2-1-1, a free and confidential service available 24/7. Several statewide organizations also provide additional help.
Cost-saving energy tips like letting natural light in to help heat the house, covering drafty windows and keeping the fireplace damper closed when a fire is not burning can also trim costs.
Many dependents from low-income families find themselves in a tough spot because income earned while developing their skillset for the workforce, like participating in an internship, could count against their families’ benefits.
Starting Jan. 1, income earned through an internship or work-based program will no longer impact a family’s eligibility for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This new law, authored by State Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville), is meant to empower the next generation of Hoosier workers by removing this barrier to opportunity. Students should feel confident to pursue opportunities and challenges that will prepare them for a good-paying job without worrying about whether their families’ benefits would be negatively impacted.
This comes as Indiana continues to skill-up its workforce through the Next Level Jobs Initiative, which offers Workforce Ready Grants covering tuition for Hoosiers wanting to earn a high-value certificate for an in-demand job. According to NextLevelJobs.org, more than 45,000 jobs are open in a variety fields including health care and advanced manufacturing.
For more information about this new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, click here.
Apply for Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship today!
In Indiana, we value hardworking teachers who impact young Hoosiers. To ensure the best and the brightest are guiding our students as they learn and grow, the state offers top-performing Indiana high school seniors and college students a scholarship in exchange for teaching in Hoosier classrooms.
If you’re an aspiring educator, don’t miss out on this opportunity to save on college costs, and apply for the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship today.
Established through legislation, this renewable scholarship of up to $7,500 for four academic years – totaling $30,000 – is awarded to 200 students each year. Eligible students must be Indiana residents, and current high school seniors or enrolled at a college or university in the state, and be in the top 20% of their class or have an ACT or SAT score in the top 20%.
Scholarship recipients need to attend college in Indiana, maintain a 3.0/4.0 GPA and complete 30 credit hours per year to renew the scholarship. After earning their degrees, they will teach in a Hoosier classroom for five consecutive years, and hopefully beyond.
Teaching is a very rewarding career, and we know there are many talented high school seniors and college students who are passionate about instilling the love of learning in others. For more information about the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship and to apply before Jan. 31, 2021, click here. Finalists will be selected by March 19, 2021.
Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is right around the corner. Let us use the holiday season to help fellow Hoosiers. With the challenges we are facing, many could use a helping hand, and there are plenty of opportunities to help.
The gift of blood helps save numerous lives. Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S. and every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Safety protocols are being followed in accordance with CDC guidelines at every blood drive to ensure donators are protected. Hoosiers can donate blood in Indiana at Red Cross drives as well as Versiti Blood Center of Indiana. Other locations and contact information for donating blood can be found by visiting the Indiana Department of Health website.
Another way to help those in need is by giving money to organizations like the Salvation Army. Every year, the Salvation Army hosts a Red Kettle campaign and collects money for those in need. They provide for homeless shelters, stock food pantries, help struggling families pay bills and gift clothes and toys to children through their Angel Tree program. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused many in-person Red Kettle events to be canceled. While some bell ringers are collecting money at select locations, recruiting enough people to help is a challenge. Hoosiers can fill the void and register to become a bell ringer here, as well as donate online here.
Volunteers and donations are needed at food banks across the state, especially as they experience a 154% increase in visits from those in need. With older Hoosiers making up a majority of volunteers at food banks, there is a need for others who are not in the pandemic’s high-risk category to step in. To learn about volunteering, click here, and to donate, click here.
For more ways to safely help others this holiday season and beyond, visit in.gov/serveindiana. Whether donating blood, giving money to organizations supporting our communities, or volunteering at food banks, we can all do our part to bless others. May you and those dear to you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.