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Around the House

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February 2018

Cracking down on human trafficking

Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal activity in the world, as well as the second-most lucrative. In Indiana, there were 83 human trafficking cases reported and 268 calls made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2016 alone. To combat this pervasive crime, House Republicans are proposing legislation to crack down on offenders and help victims get the help they need.

Under current law, health practitioners are required to report all suspected human trafficking patients, regardless of age, to social services and local law enforcement. When referred to authorities, victims 18 years of age or older could potentially be tried for prostitution or face possible retribution from their trafficker. According to medical professionals and advocates, this discourages those victims from seeking help. Proposed legislation would remove the requirement to report suspected adult human trafficking victims and instead, would encourage and require licensed health care providers to offer information about community resources and services, such as a 24/7 victim hotline.

Another proposal would create separate offenses for human and sex trafficking. This would make it easier for law enforcement to crack down on specific offenders and trafficking networks. This legislation would expand Indiana’s Rape Shield Statute to include victims of human trafficking and require law enforcement to notify the Department of Child Services of a possible trafficking victim if they are under 18 years of age, which would help young victims by placing them in protective custody. This measure would also call for the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to look into of what specific authority a law enforcement officer has in order to take custody of a child when the officer suspects he or she is a victim of human trafficking.

By improving how human trafficking cases are handled from the start and cracking down on offenders, Indiana can continue to bolster our fight against these crimes and help keep Hoosiers safe. If you or someone you know suspects that a person is a victim of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org.

 

 

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Protecting Hoosier children

Hoosier children are our future. This session, House Republicans are working on legislation to better protect children in every community.

Recently, the House of Representative’s passed a bill to expand Silver Alerts to include missing children with disabilities. Silver Alerts are issued by law enforcement and voluntarily broadcast by TV and radio stations when an adult has wandered from their home or a caregiver and are unlikely to return without assistance. Currently, if a child wanders from their home or care center, there is no emergency alert system to make the public aware. An Amber Alert, which is Indiana’s Emergency Alert System for abducted children, does not apply to children who leave their home, school or care facility at their own free will. State Rep. Sharon Negele of Attica wants to better ensure children with mental or physical disabilities who need help returning home are included under the updated Silver Alert system.

State Rep. Douglas Gutwein from Francesville also authored legislation that would add two new tests to Indiana’s newborn screening panel. Newborn screenings are used to identify diseases in babies shortly after their births, allowing for early interventions that can prevent the need for long-term care or death.

One test that would be added would be for spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a severe genetic disorder that alters the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord. This results in muscle weakness and may lead to the inability to walk, talk, swallow and breathe. Another test would be for severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID, which causes individuals to be highly susceptible to life-threatening infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi. This disease often forces children into high levels of quarantine to avoid infection. Early detection is key in allowing children with these conditions to live a better, healthier life.

To track these and other bills, watch committee meetings and view session live, visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website here.

 

Making your government more efficient

Indiana is ranked No. 1 in state government by U.S. News & World Report. To continue this momentum, a House Republican proposal would repeal or update unused, clumsy, and duplicative reports required of state government entities. In total, eight chapters, 99 sections and 31 reports in the Indiana Code could be repealed, and 35 standalone reports or reporting requirements would be combined into more accessible formats. This bill would help streamline administrative processes and improve public transparency.

Another bill would bring various local government processes into the digital age, ultimately reducing publishing, mailing and clerical costs. This legislation would ensure that journals, enrolled acts, session laws and Indiana Code would be distributed in either paper or electronic format. These measures would allow local government to achieve greater efficiency and save money for Hoosier taxpayers without impacting the level of service.

House Republicans are dedicated to transparency. We live broadcast each House session online and House committee meetings. The Indiana Transparency Portal, www.in.gov/itp, brings better visibility, openness and accountability to state government. The portal provides information on agency budgets, state contracts, agency performance measures and local government expenditures.

More details can be found on the Indiana General Assembly’s website here, along with a live feed of session and committee meetings.

Halftime Update: House Republicans making great strides

The 2018 legislative session reached its halfway point. House Republicans have made great progress with our legislative priorities, including increasing K-12 funding, strengthening Indiana’s workforce, attacking the opioid epidemic and increasing government efficiency.

In support of House Republicans’ top priority, a key House bill would provide additional funding to traditional K-12 public schools after a surge in enrollment. Traditional public school enrollment exceeded budgetary forecasts by over 6,000 students. To account for that growth, funds could be transferred from the State Tuition Reserve Account to schools. Currently, Indiana spends about $7 billion annually on K-12 public education.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, from 2015 to 2016, there was a 52 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths. To help combat this epidemic, proposed legislation would open up to nine new treatment centers, greatly improving access to addiction treatment programs throughout the state, and ensuring Hoosiers in underserved areas have options to begin and sustain their recovery process. Another bill would allow the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council to create a pilot program to open state-supported drug treatment programs to individuals who have been charged with a misdemeanor. This option is currently only available to Hoosiers who have been charged or convicted of a felony.

To learn more about how House Republicans have progressed on their legislative agenda, click here.

To track these and other bills, watch committee meetings and view session live, visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website here. A great way to stay up-to-date with your local representative and events going on in your community is to sign up at the bottom of our homepage, IndianaHouseRepublicans.com, to receive electronic newsletters.

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