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Featured Podcast

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.

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New Online Resources for Hoosier Parents

A new, interactive website for Hoosier parents provides resources and tools to help give children the best learning experience, both at home and at daycare.

BrighterFuturesIndiana.org offers activities and other daily exercises crafted for specific ages. These lessons, covering a range of subjects, help parents encourage their little ones to reach important developmental milestones.

Parents can gauge their child’s progress using the developmental milestone lists. Whether it’s a child’s first laugh at four months or starting kindergarten at five, Brighter Futures Indiana offers helpful materials and tips on creating a positive and beneficial learning environment.

Brighter Futures Indiana lists local childcare options, both after-school programs and in-home care for Indiana families to consider. Its detailed descriptions and tools, like the Child Care Finder, help parents locate a childcare facility that best fits their family’s personal needs. The website also shares information on how to apply for financial assistance programs like the Child Care Development Fund  voucher program, On My Way Pre-K and other statewide programs.

In addition to the online resources, Hoosiers can receive education ideas on their phone through Bloom Bright texts and on the Brighter Futures Indiana weekly blog.

To access these resources and more, visit brighterfuturesindiana.org

Fourth of July Safety

This Fourth of July, as you celebrate our nation’s independence under the glow of fireworks with friends and family, know that this was the vision of one of our Founding Fathers, John Adams.

“It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade. With shows, games, and sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

Whether on the water or launching fireworks, please stay safe.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources urges people to take precautions when boating or swimming. Last year, over 100 people drowned in Indiana. Many drownings could be prevented with the proper use of a life jacket and swim lessons. Always keep a watchful eye when kids are around water.

While fireworks are fun, it’s important to remember they are also hazardous. Practice common sense when lighting fireworks. Don’t light fireworks near buildings and make sure to keep children and pets a safe distance away. Always have a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case something goes wrong. Also, be considerate of veterans in your neighborhood, and remember that the sound of fireworks can impact those with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Please keep these and other safety tips in mind as you celebrate this week. For a list of firework shows across the state, click here.

House Republicans hope you have a safe Independence Day enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the fullest.

 

Promoting Public Safety

House Republicans are committed to increasing public safety. Among other important policies providing protections for Hoosiers, we enacted new laws to help motorists and keep serious felons off the streets.

Any Hoosier driver can now stop by their local fire department to request a free carbon monoxide test for inside their vehicle. Called Savannah’s Law, this policy was named after an Indiana high school student who died in a car crash after the deadly gas infiltrated her vehicle due to a faulty exhaust system.

Another new law ensures justice is sought for every life lost in a violent crime. Tragically, some violent crimes against pregnant mothers result in the death of their unborn children. Under this law, charges can now include murder and manslaughter if a person commits a felony that results in the death of a fetus, which could add up to 20 years to their sentence if convicted.

To curb illegal drug use and trafficking, a new law increases the penalty for anyone convicted of drug dealing that results in the death of the user. The dealers in these cases can be charged with the highest possible felony and sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison.

Follow #NewIndianaLaws on social media and our blog series for more highlights of new laws now in effect.

June is National Safety Month

From cooking burgers on the grill to splashing around at the local pool, it’s important to keep safety in mind during National Safety Month and the rest of the summer season.

When out on the water, it’s not only crucial to keep an attentive eye on children, but also important to put on sunscreen. The Environmental Protection Agency reports more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer in the United States each year. To help protect your skin from the sun, experts advise using sunscreen and finding shade when the sun is at its peak from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To learn more, click here.

Once the sun has set, remember to stay safe at the bonfire and while grilling. The National Fire Protection Association warns to never leave a lit grill or fire unattended and to be sure it is a safe distance from any building. Visit here for other tips on grilling and bonfire safety.

If you’re planning on shooting off fireworks, take extra precautions. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms saw more than 11,100 injuries nationwide relating to fireworks in 2016. Most fireworks should not be held when lit. Even sparklers, which are meant to be held, can reach up to 1,200 degrees and cause third degree burns when not handled properly. Don’t let children light fireworks and make sure to keep them and any pets a safe distance from the launching zone.

Please keep these and other safety tips in mind so we can all enjoy the summer months together.

Supporting foster children, families

Foster families play a vital role in the lives of children in need. With more than 23,000 Hoosier children in foster care, new laws were recently enacted to increase the number of safe homes, clearly outline the rights of foster parents and help students in foster care succeed academically.

There are twice as many children in Indiana’s foster care system than there are available homes, in many cases due to the state’s drug epidemic and removal of more children from dangerous environments. As a result of this growing need for foster families, a new law allows foster parents to welcome up to six children in approved homes, helping young Hoosiers receive the support they need and keeping siblings together.

In an effort to provide foster parents a stronger voice, a new law establishes a foster parent bill of rights. The Department of Child Services will form a group of foster parents, child-placing agencies and other experts in foster care services to work together to clearly define the rights and responsibilities of foster parents.

Nationally, 56 percent of children in foster care graduate from high school, and only 3 percent graduate from college. The state is working to develop tools to help students in foster care succeed. A new law tasks the Department of Education, DCS and the State Board of Education with preparing an annual report on the educational outcomes of students in foster care. The law will help make teachers aware of students’ circumstances so they can better address their individual needs.

Every child deserves and requires a safe environment to grow and learn. These new laws will help foster children and families succeed.

Follow #NewIndianaLaws on social media and our blog series for more highlights of laws enacted in the 2018 legislative session.

Attacking the Opioid Epidemic

New state laws are helping to combat opioid addiction from every angle. From curbing the supply to strengthening enforcement and expanding treatment options, these laws work to save more lives and end the cycle of addiction.

Before prescribing potentially addictive medications, health care professionals throughout Indiana will begin checking the state’s prescription monitoring system, INSPECT. By consulting INSPECT, pharmacists and doctors will be able to determine if a patient is “doctor shopping” for multiple, simultaneous prescriptions.  A similar database, NPLEx, has been instrumental in the fight against meth labs. The system tracks and enforces Indiana’s cold medication purchase limits, helping prevent meth cooks from obtaining crucial meth-making ingredients.

Enforcement is key in decreasing the supply of and demand for deadly drugs. Now, those who deal or illegally manufacture drugs that lead to the death of a user can be charged with the highest possible felony.

To better ensure Hoosiers are within an hour’s drive of receiving help, the number of opioid treatment locations in the state will be increased from 18 to 27.

As lawmakers continue to address this important issue, we need accurate and data-driven information on the number and locationof drug overdose deaths. A new law outlines autopsy and data reporting requirements for local coroners when they investigate suspected overdose deaths.

By attacking this public health crisis, hopefully we can prevent addiction before it starts, keep drug dealers off our streets and get more Hoosiers into lifesaving treatment.

Follow #NewIndianaLaws on social media and our blog series for more highlights of laws enacted this legislative session.

Festival season in Indiana

Looking for fun summer activities the whole family can enjoy?

For upcoming events in your community and throughout the state, check out the 2018 Indiana Festival Guide. With county fairs, art and music festivals, car shows and everything in between, there is something for everyone in the Hoosier state.

Staying local is a good way to discover the best Indiana has to offer, connect with friends and family, save money and help support the economy. In fact, Indiana welcomed 79 million visitors in 2016, generating more than $12.2 billion in revenue and supporting over 242,000 jobs.

Go to VisitIndiana.com for trip ideas and information on lodging, events, attractions, restaurants and discounts. Copies of the festival guide, the 2018 Indiana Travel Guide and other helpful publications can be downloaded or mail-ordered for free at VisitIndiana.com or by calling 800­-677-­9800.

Summer is a great time in Indiana. Stay safe and experience all that our state has to offer!

Grants pave way for local road projects

Communities across Indiana will soon be able to apply for state matching grants to improve local roads and bridges.

The Indiana Department of Transportation will begin accepting applications on Monday, Aug. 6, for matching funds for shovel-ready local construction projects through Community Crossings, Indiana’s local road and bridge matching grant program.

The grants are a result of legislation passed by House Republicans in 2016. In the past two years, the state has awarded $300 million to Indiana cities, towns and counties through the program.

These funds help communities address their immediate road-funding needs to keep Indiana’s roads and bridges safe. A strong infrastructure supports a more robust economy and keeps our communities moving forward.

Projects eligible for funding through Community Crossings include road resurfacing, bridge rehabilitation, road reconstruction and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in connection with road projects. Material costs for chip sealing and crack filling operations are also eligible for funding.

All application materials must be submitted by 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 28. Click here for more information about the Community Crossings Matching Grant Program.

Improving School Safety

Ensuring school safety is an issue at the forefront of our country right now. This is a complex problem with no simple solution, but taking a multifaceted approach can help better protect our students.

Indiana is on the right track. Last year, the Security Industry Association highlighted our state as a “national leader” for implementing and investing in school safety policies. Indiana is 1 of 5 states with a “red flag” law, which allows guns to be taken from individuals a court determines to be dangerous to themselves or others.

Indiana’s School Safety Specialist Academy has trained and certified nearly 2,500 specialists at no cost to schools. We are also 1 of 2 states to require every school district to employ a certified specialist who is trained annually on best practices.

In addition to these measures, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a new law authored by State Rep. Wendy McNamara putting more protections in place for Hoosier students. The law appropriates up to $5 million to the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Fund in addition to the $45 million already allotted to support initiatives to keep schools safe and secure.

Under the new law, school safety specialist training will include information on identifying, preventing and intervening in actions by a person on school property who has the intent to harm others.

The mass murderer in the recent Parkland tragedy pulled the school’s fire alarm in order to fill the hallways with students and faculty. To help prevent copycat attacks, protocol in the event of an unplanned fire alarm is updated to allow an employee to barricade or block a door for up to three minutes while the fire alarm is investigated by a designated school official.

Students go to school to get an education, and they should not have to worry about senseless violence in their classrooms. Hoosier lawmakers, educators and law enforcement officers have worked and will continue working to ensure the children in our schools are safe and protected.

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