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May 2017

Looking for fun summer activities the whole family can enjoy?

For upcoming events in your community and throughout the state, check out the 2017 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 small businesses. In fact, Indiana welcomed 77 million visitors last year, generating more than $11.5 billion in revenue and supporting over 202,000 jobs.

Go to VisitIndiana.com for trip ideas and information on lodging, events and attractions, restaurants and even discounts. Copies of the festival guide, 2017 Indiana Travel Guide and other travel 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!

 

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Memorial Day is a time to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country and the freedoms we enjoy today. Our appreciation for those who died defending the blessings of liberty is boundless.

To help protect war memorials around the state, the General Assembly enacted a new law this year allowing local governments to transfer ownership of these memorials and monuments to non-profit organizations who will see to their maintenance and upkeep, such as veterans groups or the Boys Scouts. By allowing these collaborative arrangements, we can prevent memorials dedicated to fallen Hoosier heroes from slipping into disrepair.

Another new law will allow the surviving spouses of veterans to indicate their status on their driver’s licenses or identification cards. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles will share this information with the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs in order to ensure these families are connected with their county veteran service officers, who have specialized training and can offer resources and assistance.

The recently enacted two-year state budget also provides $1.82 million in funding for veteran service organizations, such as the American Legion and AMVETS, to improve assistance for veteran families seeking benefits and doubles funding for veteran problem-solving courts to $2 million.

As you enjoy Memorial Day weekend, please join House Republicans in remembering our fallen service members and those who are serving overseas today.

This session, House Republicans remained focused on strengthening our commitment to education in Indiana, which is why the new biennial budget increases base funding for each K-12 student statewide. Several new laws provide more tools and resources to Hoosier students and teachers:

Increasing Course Options: A new law providing access to specialty classes and programs not provided at certain schools will help all students regardless of where they are enrolled. Whether small, rural or urban, some schools may lack the necessary resources to provide advanced classes or trade programs in high-demand areas.

Retaining New Teachers: A new law establishing a mentorship program for new Hoosier teachers and administrators will encourage those in their first and second year to remain in the classroom. Studies suggest that most new teachers believe having access to a mentor has the largest impact on developing their effectiveness as an educator.

Reforming School Funding: A new measure creating two funding categories for schools, an education fund and an operations fund, will provide greater financial flexibility. Indiana invests over half of the state’s budget in K-12 education, but only 57 percent of school funding reaches classrooms. By allowing transfers between these two funds, schools will be able to direct more dollars where needed.

Our students hold the keys to our state’s bright future and House Republicans are dedicated to supporting commonsense policies like these that help them grow and succeed.

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

Starting July 1, Hoosier children under age 18 will be required to wear a helmet when riding or operating an off-road vehicle, unless it is for an agricultural purpose.

The number of deaths related to off-road vehicles is on the rise in Indiana. Last year, 21 Hoosiers died as a result of ATV wrecks. In 2015, an 11-year-old girl named Kate Bruggenschmidt was riding an ATV with a friend on private property in Spencer County. While going up a hill, the ATV rolled and Kate was trapped underneath. She was not wearing a helmet and suffered severe head trauma. Tragically, Kate did not survive the accident. This legislative session, her mother and close friends made touching and courageous testimonies at the Statehouse in support of this law.

Other laws passed this session to help keep Indiana residents safe include:

HEA 1010: A new law aims to keep those who repeatedly violate their probation or community supervision off the streets. Low-level offenders receiving services like addiction treatment can now be committed to the Department of Correction if they don’t adhere to their probation, parole or community corrections.

HEA 1001: As part of the biennial budget, salaries for all state law enforcement officers in Indiana will increase by 24 percent. This includes Indiana State Police and Conservation Officers. This will ensure that those who serve and protect their fellow Hoosiers are compensated at a rate competitive with other states and municipalities.

SEA 322: A new law allowing law enforcement to expand the use of DNA to solve crimes will help identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent. A cheek swab can now be taken upon felony arrest and, after a court finds probable cause, the DNA sample would be run through a national database to pinpoint and stop criminals. Thirty other states already have similar legislation on the books.

HEA 1289: A new law preventing sex trafficking in massage parlors will require massage therapists to have proper training and certification. Indiana had a voluntary certification process for these individuals. This licensure requirement will protect legitimate professionals while making sex trafficking more difficult.

HEA 1071: A new law allowing protective orders to temporarily double as handgun permits in domestic violence situations will keep vulnerable Hoosiers safe. Victims can use their protective order as a handgun permit if they have applied for a handgun license, are 18 years of age and have not been convicted of a felony. The protective order is valid for a 60-day period.

SEA 479: A new law strengthening penalties against drivers accused of leaving the scene of a serious accident where there are multiple victims will help keep our roads safe. Now, hit-and-run drivers will be held accountable for every individual they seriously injure or kill in the accident.

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

Teachers provide our children with the tools and resources they need to be successful. To recognize educators and their vital roles, the country is celebrating National Teacher Appreciation Week throughout May 1-5. This is a great opportunity to make sure our educators know how much we value them and their contributions to our students.

Even the smallest act of kindness can help show your gratitude, like sharing a picture of yourself with an influential teacher, a picture of your child with their teacher or a picture of yourself with a simple thank you message on social media using #TeacherAppreciationWeek.

House Republicans understand that our educators greatly impact the lives of their students and need support to succeed in the classroom. This year, we addressed issues associated with ISTEP and built on legislation from last year to effectively replace the test with a newer, more efficient statewide assessment. Learn more here.

We also passed legislation that helps reward teachers for pursuing higher degrees.

Thank you, State Reps. Tony Cook, Wendy McNamara and Jeff Thompson. As teachers and public servants, you all work tirelessly to make Indiana a great place for our children.

Regardless of how you and your family participate in National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s make sure our Hoosier educators know they’re valued.

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