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Around the House

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March 2021

Focusing On Civics Education

Civic engagement is key to our representative democracy. To ensure our nation and democracy thrives, a bill recently cleared the General Assembly to require civics education be taught to students in middle school.

Hoosier students typically complete a government class their senior year of high school and civics education is woven into the middle school curriculum. However, there is no course dedicated to this important topic, and some younger students may leave school before graduation. House Enrolled Act 1384 would incorporate civics education into students’ curriculum sooner as they take at least one semester of a course dedicated to civics in grades 6, 7 or 8 – well ahead of when they reach Indiana’s legal voting age.

Young Hoosiers need to understand their government at the local, state and federal level, and learning civics from a young age will help prepare the next generation of strong leaders.

For more information on House Enrolled Act 1384, which is currently on the governor’s desk to be considered as a new law, visit iga.in.gov.

Check out your own civics knowledge with this practice test.  

Honoring Purple Heart Recipients

The Purple Heart medal is one of the most prestigious awards given to a veteran, and is presented to service members wounded or killed as a result of enemy action while serving in the U.S. military.

Any Hoosier veteran awarded the Purple Heart is eligible to purchase a distinctive Purple Heart license plate. Currently, Purple Heart recipients can request multiple specialty plates for vehicles registered under their name, including those driven by spouses. However, when the veteran passes away, the spouse cannot renew the plate.

House Enrolled Act 1039 would allow a surviving spouse of a Purple Heart recipient to continue displaying the Purple Heart license plate.

Purple Heart recipients carry with them the scars of battle, and so do their families. With this bill, which received overwhelming support from the Indiana House of Representatives and Indiana Senate, surviving spouses will be able to continue memorializing their loved one’s legacy through a simple but meaningful gesture. House Enrolled Act 1039 is now eligible to be signed into law by the governor.

To learn more about the distinctive license plates the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers to military personnel, Hoosier veterans and civilians wanting to show their support for the armed forces, click here.

Supporting Low-Income Workers

In 2020, Indiana received more than 31,000 new job commitments, even when facing a global pandemic. As the economy continues bouncing back from the disruption caused by COVID-19, skilled workers are needed to fill in-demand jobs across the state. However, some Hoosiers are not pursuing free education and work-based training opportunities because a higher paycheck could disqualify their family from benefit programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This session, we’re making it a priority to ensure Hoosiers 24 years old and younger can earn additional income without disqualifying their family from benefits.

Currently, TANF eligibility is determined by the total income of a household, which includes young adults who may be living at home after high school. House Bill 1009 would incentivize more young Hoosiers to work toward post-secondary degrees, workforce certificates, pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programs, without the threat of their family losing assistance as they further their education. This legislation would also increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to 10%, providing additional relief to working Hoosiers. This increase could put roughly $11.2 million back into the hands of low-income working families each year.

House Bill 1009 received overwhelming support in the Indiana House of Representatives and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Family and Children Services. To learn more, visit iga.in.gov.

Closing The Digital Divide

Whether it is for students trying to connect to their classes, patients receiving medical consultation, employees working from home or hopefuls embarking on new careers, more Hoosiers are in need of dependable broadband.

This session, House Republicans are working on legislation to ensure broadband reaches lesser-served areas of the state.

To help close the digital divide for Hoosier students, workers and employers, the House Republican Budget includes $250 million in broadband expansion grants. These grants are offered to providers and used to strengthen access to reliable and affordable internet service throughout Indiana.

Under another proposal, the Office of Rural and Community Affairs must consider deploying broadband to rural areas that are most in need when providing Next Level Connections grants.

In order to get broadband to more communities quicker, a bill would streamline the permitting process for broadband projects to help developers work across multiple counties without being tied up with inconsistent regulations from different communities.

As Indiana continues to reopen and spur economic growth and development, accessing reliable, affordable internet connection is more important than ever. Learn more about House Republican efforts to expand rural broadband at iga.in.gov.

Supporting Our Small Businesses

Small businesses are quick to lend a hand to neighbors in need and go out of their way to support local communities. They are vital to Indiana’s economy, and are being hit hard by the pandemic, especially those in hospitality and tourism industries. To assist Hoosier entrepreneurs, House lawmakers passed a bill to help struggling businesses bounce back.

House Bill 1004 would extend and strengthen an existing grant program to accelerate economic recovery and protect Indiana jobs. This Hoosier Hospitality Small Business Restart Grant Program could provide up to $50,000 in grant funding to eligible businesses. To qualify, businesses must be in good standing and able to show a significant loss of revenue. If awarded a grant, funds could be used toward a portion of business and payroll expenses. 

House Bill 1004 received bipartisan support from the Indiana House of Representatives and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration. For more information about legislation from this session, visit iga.in.gov.

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