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.