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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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Wrapping up the 2017 session

Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed several bills into law, including measures to help our military members, prevent drug abuse and reduce the number of cervical cancer deaths in Indiana. It’s the governor’s job to look over the bills approved by both the House and Senate. He then has seven days to sign or veto these bills. If he does not sign, the bill automatically becomes law on the eighth day. Below are some highlights of the pieces of legislation Holcomb has signed into law.

Nearly one-third of military spouses have careers requiring a professional license, including teachers. Because relocation from state to state is such a common occurrence for military families, the new law will make their transition to Indiana easier. Starting in July, this bill requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules when active-duty military spouse’s move to Indiana. SBOE will expedite the issuance, renewal or reinstatement of their teaching license. Current law allows, but does not require, the State Board to adopt such rules.

In an effort to fight the deadly drug epidemic in Indiana, a new law adds two dangerous drugs to the controlled substances list. These synthetic drugs – Etizolam and U-47700 – both have been linked to multiple deaths. By adding them to the controlled substances list, it will now be illegal to purchase or distribute these drugs in our state.

According to the Indiana Cancer Consortium, approximately 250 new cervical cancer cases and 86 cervical cancer-related deaths occur annually among women in Indiana. A new law  is tasking the Indiana State Department of Health with developing a statewide strategic plan to attack this problem. The department must work to identify barriers to cervical cancer prevention, screening and treatment, while also developing public and private partnerships to increase cervical cancer awareness and recommend actions to reduce the number of Hoosier deaths associated with the disease.

As we work to wrap up the 2017 session, lawmakers will be coming together to pass the next two-year state budget and a comprehensive, long-term road funding plan, among other new policies. Conference committees are now meeting to agree on the finalized proposals for new laws. Their hearings are streamed live online at iga.in.gov. By law, session must adjourn before midnight on April 29.

Work Zone Safety

Since 2014, an average of 12 people each year in Indiana lost their lives in roadway construction zones, with 80 percent of those killed being motorists or their passengers.

This year, the Indiana Department of Transportation will oversee more than 300 construction projects. These projects total over $1 billion in capital investments to improve traffic mobility and safety and modernize dozens of interchanges across Indiana.

INDOT has several suggestions to keep both motorists and construction workers safe in work zones:

  • Stay alert! Look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway you.
  • Pay attention. Work zone signs will tell drivers exactly what to expect ahead.
  • Merge early. If drivers merge as soon as they see signs, traffic will flow much more smoothly.
  • Slow down! Don’t speed, there could be slowed or stopped vehicles in the construction zone.
  • Keep your distance. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of the vehicle.
  • Minimize distractions. The three Cs – cell phones, CDs and coffee – are the primary cause of driver inattention.
  • Plan ahead. Expect delays during construction season and allow extra travel time, or select an alternate route.

Drivers can stay up-to-date on current construction projects with INDOT’s interactive online map or through TrafficWise, INDOTs Traffic Management Center which gives real-time traffic updates. Updates can also be found through Twitter.

We can work together to make our roads safer. Please don’t drive distracted and keep an eye out for our hardworking road construction workers.

Distracted Driving Dangers

Drivers who send or read text messages are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers.

Jill Biddle of Kirklin learned firsthand the deadly consequences of distracted driving. Biddle lost her daughter, Maria Droesch, at age 17 in a tragic car crash. Maria veered into oncoming traffic while texting and driving. Biddle now uses her daughter’s wrecked car to send a message about driving while distracted.

“We bring this car all over the state to show people what texting and driving can lead to,” Biddle said. “If we can help save just one life, then we have accomplished our goal.”

State representatives joined Biddle at the Statehouse to show support for her efforts to bring awareness to the issue and urge motorists to use hands-free devices while driving.

“Texting and driving remains a significant problem, and we have to do more to educate our friends and families about its dangers,” said State Rep. Milo Smith of Columbus.

Currently, Indiana has a statewide texting while driving ban for all drivers, and prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using handheld and hands-free cellular devices except to dial 911. Despite these laws, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration found 10 percent of teens involved in fatal crashes were reported as being distracted at the time of the crash.

April marks the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month dedicated to bringing awareness to the serious issue of distracted driving.

To learn more about the dangers of texting and driving, click here.

Spring is here!

Last weekend welcomed the start of the spring season! Longer days and warmer weather present more opportunities to get outside and explore all that Indiana offers.

From hiking or camping in our breathtaking state parks to exploring Indiana’s culinary past and present, or participating in some of our states great festivals and events, there is always something new and exciting to do in Indiana. No matter where your adventure takes you, you’ll be greeted with Hoosier Hospitality.

To help you on your adventures, download a digital copy of the 2017 Indiana Travel Guide filled with tips on things to do, places to stay, local foods to savor and so much more. You can also find additional trip ideas and information by logging on to VisitIndiana.com.

In Indiana, there are nearly 250 new cases of cervical cancer and 85 cervical cancer-related deaths among women each year. Cervical cancer is almost completely preventable through regular, routine screenings, avoidance of controllable risk factors and vaccination.

House Bill 1278, authored by State Rep. Sharon Negele from Attica, would require the Indiana State Department of Health to develop a statewide strategic plan to decrease Indiana’s cervical cancer mortality rate. Specifically, ISDH would be tasked with identifying barriers to cervical cancer prevention, screening and treatment, developing public and private partnerships to increase cervical cancer awareness, and recommend actions to reduce the number of deaths associated with the disease.

Most cases of cervical cancer are found in women who are aged 50 or younger, but oftentimes older women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age. Women need proper resources and information to help protect themselves. By starting the conversation between policymakers and health professionals, we can help educate the public and raise awareness about the ways to prevent and treat cervical cancer.

After being passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and Senate, the bill can now be signed into law by the governor.

Roads for Our Future

Few government policies touch as many aspects of Hoosiers’ daily lives as road funding. Indiana’s roads and bridges connect our homes, schools, offices, factories and farms, and are indispensable arteries for our manufacturing and logistics-based economy.

Indiana ranks among the top manufacturing states in the nation, and 80 percent of our manufactured goods are transported to worldwide markets across Hoosier highways. Poor roads and bridges create longer travel times, resulting in a higher costs for businesses to produce and transport their goods. If transportation infrastructure is not placed on a fiscally sustainable path, Indiana’s current long-term economic competitiveness will be undermined.

The philosophy behind the House Republican long-term, data-driven plan is simple: the more we drive, the more we pay. Experts estimate our state highway system requires an average of $1.2 billion in additional annual funding over the next 20 years. The plan regains lost buying power by increasing user fees by 10 cents per gallon on gasoline, and directs all of the sales tax on gas to roads. Our proposal creates another ongoing funding source for local roads through a $15 annual motor vehicle fee and $150 annual fee for electric cars.

Indiana’s road conditions cost the average Hoosier motorist $491 in annual repairs. Currently the average Hoosier motorist pays just $19 per month in road-funding taxes. Our plan would only cost Indiana drivers an additional $5 per month. Put in perspective, the average monthly bills for cell phone service is $53 and cable television at $60, are considerably higher. If a long-term plan is not adopted, we can expect congestion, delays, frustration and costs to increase.

Show support for this data-driven plan on social media by tweeting #investINroads, and don’t forget to post photos of the worst potholes in your area with the hashtag #IndianaPotholes. Click here to learn more about our pothole contest.

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Statehouse Build

Indiana lawmakers and staff participated in the first ever Habitat for Humanity Statehouse Build!

Over 160 volunteers partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Indiana today to help build a home for a hard-working single mother and her 8-year-old daughter.

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis), House Democrat Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City), Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) joined Habitat for Humanity of Indiana and the home recipient to formally kick off the event.

Participants set a goal of $30,000 for the cost of the construction, and were able to raise $50,500 thanks to numerous donations. Earlier this year, the legislature launched a new and used tool drive, ultimately collecting $3,500 in new and used tools.

Follow all of the action of build day on social media with the hashtag #StatehouseBuild.

Habitat for Humanity of Indiana is a non-profit organization serving 75 counties. The organization sells homes with affordable, interest-free mortgages. To begin the application process, families must demonstrate their ability to pay a mortgage and manage their finances. Once a family is accepted into the program, they contribute sweat equity hours and attend homebuyer education classes.

Learn how to get involved with Habitat for Humanity of Indiana here.

 

 

The positive recognition just keeps rolling in for Indiana!

Indiana stands out as the No. 1 state for government administration in the U.S. News Best States for Government ranking.

Many factors were weighed in the score, including fiscal stability, which looks at pension liability, state credit ratings and revenue versus expenses in state budgets; budget transparency, which is based on transparency and usefulness of state government tools to measure spending and budget data; government digitalization, which is based on use of technology to serve citizens in a variety of categories; and state integrity, which evaluated anti-corruption measures in political financing, electoral oversight and more.

A leaner, more efficient state government has led to a decade of honestly balanced budgets, healthy reserves, fully funded pension liabilities and a AAA credit rating.

Read what Speaker Brian Bosma has to say about Indiana’s latest ranking here.

 

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