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Protecting Victims Of Domestic Violence

Many Hoosiers face violence in their own homes and live in fear – often in silence – because of an abusive relationship. In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence at some point in their lives.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and a new law in Indiana is working to better protect domestic violence victims who obtain protective and no-contact orders. In the past, these orders were not always followed and that’s in part because of the relatively low penalty for violating them. This year, state lawmakers increased the penalty from a misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony carrying a fine of up to $10,000 and prison time. Not only is this a stronger deterrent for criminals disobeying court orders, but it also gives law enforcement additional tools to keep Hoosiers safe and get abusers off the streets.

This enhancement is backed by public safety officers, including Evansville Sgt. Matt Karges (pictured center), who testified at the Statehouse in support of the legislation. He recently joined State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) (pictured right), chair of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee and sponsor of the law, for a ceremonial bill signing. Other House sponsors of Senate Enrolled Act 79, which passed unanimously, include State Reps. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) and Mike Speedy (R- Indianapolis).

Domestic violence affects Hoosiers across the state, regardless of race, income, age or occupation. No person deserves to be physically or emotionally harmed, and help is available. To report an abusive relationship or find help, call the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence hotline at 800-332-7385. Resources and support are also available at icadvinc.org.

Improving, Expanding Broadband Services

The new Indiana Connectivity Program can help Hoosier residents and businesses experiencing slow or no internet service connect with broadband in their area.

Through the program, those without a quality internet connection can report their address and information using the Next Level Connections portal at in.gov/ocra/broadband/icp or by calling the Indiana Broadband Connect Center between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (ET) on business days at 833-639-8522.

This program will connect qualifying residents and businesses with broadband in their area, and help providers by assisting in the costs of extending service to those locations. To be eligible for assistance, a location must experience speeds of less than 25 Mbps (download) and 3 Mbps (upload).

Internet providers will review service requests and submit bids to the state to extend broadband to those eligible areas. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs will evaluate bids and award funding. Funded projects must be completed in nine months. Hoosiers should know that submitting their location to the state does not guarantee service will be extended.

Thanks to the General Assembly’s efforts to pass legislation establishing the Indiana Connectivity Program, more unserved and underserved Hoosiers will have access to reliable, high-speed broadband internet service. For more information about the program and to apply for assistance, visit in.gov/ocra/broadband/icp.

Small Businesses Eligible For Pandemic Relief  

Small businesses are a vital part of the Hoosier economy, and the pandemic presented them many hardships throughout the last year. Employers worked diligently to keep their doors open and made large investments to keep employees and customers safe. Unfortunately, some are still trying to make ends meet and keep their doors open.

Hoosier entrepreneurs and small businesses continuing to recover from the impacts of the pandemic can now receive up to $100,000 through the Small Business Restart Grant program.

The deadline to apply for grants is extended to Nov. 15. These grants provide working capital to eligible companies by reimbursing certain expenses incurred during and related to the pandemic. The timeframe in which losses can be recovered, originally through May 1, 2021, is now extended through Oct. 31, 2021.

Businesses that already received a Small Business Restart Grant can reapply in order to reach the new maximum reimbursement amount of $100,000, but it’s important to note that expenses covered by a previous grant are not eligible for this second round of funding. Be sure to apply as soon as possible, especially as grants will be issued in the order received until funding is exhausted.

Our communities and state depend on small businesses, and as they continue to recover from the pandemic, these grants can help.

For more information on new and expanded eligibility requirements, and to apply, click here.

Protecting Hoosier Students, Schools

Ensuring the safety of Hoosier students, teachers and school staff is always a top priority. Recently, 392 schools throughout the state received more than $19 million from the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Program to make safety upgrades.

This program, established by the Indiana General Assembly in 2013, provides matching grants to Hoosier school corporations, accredited non-public schools, charter schools and coalitions of school corporations. Funds are used to address and prepare for potential safety threats, like employing school resource officers, conducting threat assessments, and purchasing equipment to restrict access to the school or expedite first responder notification.

Since the program’s launch, Indiana schools – large and small – received more than $110 million in grant funding.

Indiana schools can apply for up to $100,000 in grant funds, but do not have to request the maximum amount. For the next round of funding, applicants need to submit requests to the Indiana Secured School Safety Board by clicking here.

For more information about the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Program, click here. Connect to other key resources through the Indiana School Safety Hub at in.gov/schoolsafety.

Enter sweepstakes to win $10K for college

To celebrate September as College Savings Month, Hoosiers can enter a sweepstakes worth $10,000 to help with higher education costs.

Contestants must be at least 18 years old and enter online by midnight on Sept. 30. A winner will receive a $10,000 contribution to a CollegeChoice 529 Savings Plan account to use for qualified expenses like tuition, books and computers.

With CollegeChoice 529 plans, students and families can save money for post-secondary or higher education. Accounts can be opened for as little as $10, and family and friends can contribute to the account on behalf of the student. Funds can be used at any eligible university or apprenticeship program, both in and out of state. Account growth is tax-deferred and tax-free, as long as the funds are used for education expenses.

For more information about opening a CollegeChoice 529 plan and to enter the sweepstakes, click here.

Public can weigh-in on proposed district maps

Initial drafts of the Indiana House of Representatives and Congressional district maps will be posted online by noon on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at iga.in.gov. Hoosiers are invited to provide feedback on those maps during 1 of 2 public meetings in the House Chamber of the Indiana Statehouse.

The House Elections and Apportionment Committee will meet from 1-5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15 and again on Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. until testimony concludes. Anyone who would like to testify can sign up upon arrival just outside of the House Chamber.

For those who cannot attend the meetings, Hoosiers can watch online at iga.in.gov and submit testimony by emailing h21@iga.in.gov or by contacting their state legislators. Constituents can find out who their state legislators are and their contact information online at iga.in.gov and clicking on “Find Your Legislator.”

Free Job Training For In-Demand Industries

Indiana’s economy continues to grow, and our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the Midwest.

Still, there are over 100,000 job openings across the state ready to be filled by hardworking Hoosiers.

To skill up and prepare to land high-paying, in-demand positions, check out Next Level Jobs. With Next Level Jobs, Hoosiers can receive free training in high-demand fields such as health care, manufacturing and information technology. Grants pay for all tuition and fees, and can be used at any eligible training provider. Hoosiers can earn high-value certificates giving them a competitive edge in the workforce.  

An additional resource is Indiana Career Ready, which helps prepare job seekers for in-demand careers regardless of their work experience. Hoosiers can access customized training and tools, like a job portal and resume builder, based on their background and experience.

To address Indiana’s skills gap, businesses are partnering with the state to help pinpoint areas needing more workers. Indiana Career Ready takes this information and aligns trainings for job seekers, or matches employers with workers skilled in the industry.

For Hoosier job providers, the employer portal can be used to attract talent, improve job descriptions and recruitment efforts, and access key data about Indiana’s labor market. Employers in key industries can apply for training grants offered through Indiana’s Next Level Jobs, which provides $5,000 for each employee who is trained, hired and retained for six months after participating in the program.  

Already, more than 23,300 Hoosiers earned certificates using the Workforce Ready Grant, and more than 50,000 are enrolled in qualifying programs. Whether adding new skills to your toolbox or seeking a new career, Next Level Jobs can help.

Savor the Flavors of Indiana

Discover the flavors and cultures of Hoosier communities large and small with the Indiana Culinary Trails Passport. The digital passport can be used on smartphones and when checking into more than 250 local establishments – including old favorites and new hotspots – along 21 culinary trails across the state.

The Indiana Culinary Trails Passport doesn’t just connect users to traditional restaurants, food lovers of all kinds will be introduced to small, family-operated ice cream parlors, bakeries, drive-ins, farms and more.

Those using the Indiana Culinary Trails Passport qualify for seasonal giveaway drawings throughout the year, with all sign-ups and check-ins considered entries. After visiting 30, 60 and 90 locations, participants will receive a custom pie server, a tumbler and a hat.

How it works:

  • Sign up for the digital passport at VisitIndiana.com/cuisine.
  • Check your phone for a text and email. No app download necessary, and be sure to save the passport to your phones home screen for easy access.
  • Head to a participating Indiana Culinary Trail business and check in.
  • Earn rewards.

Whether looking for the perfect sugar cream pie or tenderloin sandwich, or trying something new, there is an Indiana Culinary Trail for you. Get your digital Indiana Culinary Trails Passport today at VisitIndiana.com/cuisine and start savoring the flavors of Indiana.

Supporting Hoosier Law Enforcement

New tools and investments in training facilities and programs for Hoosier law enforcement will help departments throughout the state better protect and serve our communities. Now ceremonially signed into law, House Enrolled Act 1006 along with the new state budget supports police departments and their efforts to hire the best officers.

With total backing from law enforcement, bipartisan support and not a single “no” vote, this historic legislation authored by State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) (pictured) allows full employment record sharing between police departments to vet potential officers, and provides the state additional flexibility to address significant officer misconduct.

Indiana’s state budget also invests $70 million in additional funding for improved training programs and facilities, including at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy where many House Republicans joined officers in training for the ceremonial signing of HEA 1006. Departments can also apply for grants to purchase body-worn cameras.

House Republicans value Hoosier police officers, and thank them for risking their lives to protect our communities.

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