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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.

Supporting Lawful Gun Owners

The Indiana House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 1369, which would allow law-abiding Hoosier adults to carry a firearm without having to get a government-issued license.

Currently, Hoosiers must complete numerous steps within 180 days after first applying for a carry permit, including:

  • Completing a firearm license application online;
  • Scheduling an appointment to get their fingerprints taken; and
  • Completing local law enforcement agency processing.

It is only after these steps are taken that the Indiana State Police do a final review and either issue or deny a permit to the individual.

Under the bill, the process to legally purchase a handgun would not change. Individuals must still complete the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form. They also have to be approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to ensure that only eligible buyers will legally purchase handguns.

Reciprocity permits, including 5-year and lifetime permits, provide Hoosiers the ability to carry in 31 other states, and would still be available under this bill. Under the proposal, the lifetime license fee would drop from $125 to $75 and the 5-year permit would remain free.

Funds collected from Indiana’s handgun permits help support local law enforcement firearms training, ammunition, body armor and other expenses. However, any loss in department funding as a result of this bill would be restored through a new appropriation in the state budget. Departments would also continue collecting funds from reciprocity permits.

If passed, Indiana could become the 19th state to allow lawful carry.

House Bill 1369 now moves to the Senate for further consideration. For more information, visit iga.in.gov.

Helping Hoosier Students Get Ahead

Last year brought sudden changes for everyone, and as many professionals transitioned to remote working because of COVID-19, so did Hoosier students. For some, this was not an easy adjustment. While necessary steps were taken to keep our children and educators safe, schoolwork became difficult as students switched between e-learning and classroom environments.

A recent study completed by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes showed the average Hoosier student lost 129 days of reading knowledge and 209 days of math knowledge, as a result of COVID-19 disruptions. There is no doubt schools are going to need extra assistance to help students get back on track.

House Bill 1008 would establish the Student Learning Recovery Grant Program to help students experiencing learning loss due to the pandemic. This proposal would create a $150 million grant program to provide individuals or organizations resources to help students this summer who have fallen behind in class, scored below academic standards or are at risk of falling behind. By providing the tools necessary help close learning gaps, this grant program could provide additional support for students on their journey to get the most out of their education.  

The Indiana Department of Education, along with the State Board of Education, would determine program criteria for grants. Applying organizations, which could include local schools, colleges or universities, community or philanthropic organizations, and prospective, current and retired educators, would be required to submit a plan detailing the programs that would supplement a student’s regular coursework. The DOE would be responsible for overseeing the grant program.

Click here to learn more.

Targeting IN’s Health Challenges

According to the United Health Foundation’s 2020 American Health Ranking, Indiana falls near the bottom in numerous health categories, including smoking rates, obesity rates, and multiple chronic conditions. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic made the public health disparities Hoosiers regularly face even more apparent.

To help more Hoosiers lead healthier lifestyles, House Bill 1007 would establish a new public health grant program aimed at providing funding to address multiple public health issues around the state. The Indiana Department of Health would administer these grants, prioritizing new and existing proposals that focus on tackling chronic health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

The proposed grant program, IN It For Health, is based on Indiana’s successful Safety PIN program, which provides funding to local health organizations to reduce Indiana’s infant mortality rate. Last year, through the Safety PIN and other programs, Indiana reached a record-low infant mortality rate for the first time in the state’s history.

To learn more about House Bill 1007, visit iga.in.gov.

Supporting Local Law Enforcement

This session, House Republicans are working on legislation to support local law enforcement, and boost accountability and transparency in policing.

House Bill 1006 would require full employment record sharing between police departments to identify bad actors, provide additional flexibility to the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board in order to address significant officer misconduct, and require de-escalation training for new recruits and current officers.

House lawmakers are also committed to investing in improved training programs and much-needed facility upgrades at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, which hasn’t been updated since the 1970s.

Indiana’s public safety officials risk their lives to protect local communities, and they need the tools to continue keeping Hoosiers safe. Key supporters of the proposal include the Indiana State Police, Indiana State Police Alliance, Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, Indiana Sheriff’s Association, Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Hoosier State Press Association, Inc., the Indy Chamber of Commerce and the Public Defender Commission. 

From improved training to increased accountability, these enhancements would help Hoosier police officers better serve and protect their communities.

House Bill 1006 passed out of the House of Representatives unanimously. The legislation now heads to the Senate for further consideration. To learn more, click here

When Families Choose, Students Win

For young Hoosiers, receiving a high-quality education can be a difference maker in their lives and lead to a successful future. Families across the nation celebrate Jan. 24-30 this year as National School Choice Week. The week represents the freedom and flexibility to choose a school that best meets the needs of all students.

Last year, Indiana ranked third in the nation for parent empowerment. The pandemic showed just how important providing flexible schooling options are for the many different academic, medical and social needs that students deal with on a daily basis.

Although Indiana currently has strong school choice programs, some students still don’t have effective education options available. Legislators have made it a priority this session to ensure more Hoosiers can exercise school choice.

Depending on a family’s income, students who attend accredited nonpublic schools can apply for a Choice Scholarship and be eligible to receive up to 90% of their tuition funding or as low as 50%.

House Bill 1005 would eliminate these financial barriers by providing 90% tuition support for every qualifying family and increasing the income threshold to help more Hoosiers. This proposal would also establish the Indiana Education Savings Account Program, which would provide eligible families funding to directly pay for tuition or education-related services from an Indiana school.

This legislation will be considered in the House Education Committee. Learn more about this bill and others at iga.in.gov. More information on National School Choice Week is available at schoolchoiceweek.com.

Lawmakers Help Hungry Hoosiers

Feeding America estimates more than 1 million Hoosiers are food insecure or at-risk of hunger, a number that has risen nearly 30% since 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many families – some for the first time – to turn to their local food banks and pantries for meals.

To help raise awareness about this issue, the Indiana House of Representatives is partnering with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, the state’s network of Feeding America food banks, to launch a donation drive at the Statehouse during the 2021 legislative session.

Lawmakers and House staff will be collecting non-perishable food items like canned meat and fish, peanut butter, soup, healthy snacks, and canned fruits and vegetables. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry will distribute any donated food items collected at the Statehouse to their member food banks.

In 2020 alone, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry distributed 150 million pounds of food to member banks and food pantries, which is equivalent to 125 million individual meals. Because it is expected Indiana will continue to see high-levels of need through 2021, this partnership will help Feeding Indiana’s Hungry meet the needs of Hoosiers across the state and bring attention to food insecurity.

In addition to the donation drive, House lawmakers launched a social media campaign using #HelpingHungryHoosiers to raise awareness for the number of Hoosiers who are food insecure. Families in need can visit FeedingIndianasHungry.org to find support and resources.

Top Priorities For 2021 Session

House Republicans are hard at work on their legislative priorities for the 2021 session, including passing a responsible state budget, helping small businesses, investing in Hoosier students and supporting law enforcement.

Chief among these priorities is creating a fiscally responsible budget that makes key investments, while maintaining prudent reserves and our state’s AAA credit rating. Targeted investments include expanding rural broadband, so we can help close the digital divide for Hoosier students, workers and employers, and creating a new grant to help find solutions for Indiana’s most critical health challenges.

As businesses continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, providing civil liability protections for them, schools, health care entities and others will be critical to Indiana’s economic recovery. Additionally, enhancing the Small Business Restart Program would provide additional support to small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, which has been hit especially hard over the past year.

House Republicans are committed to ensuring all K-12 public school students receive full funding for the 2020-21 school year, whether they attended classes in-person or virtually due to COVID-19. Lawmakers are also calling for a one-time grant to help children combat learning loss they may have experienced as a result of the pandemic. Legislation would also ensure more families can exercise school choice and provide their children the best education.

Proposed legislation would also support law enforcement, and increase transparency and accountability in policing. House Bill 1006 would require full employment record sharing between departments to help law enforcement identify bad actors. The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board would also be given more flexibility to address significant officer misconduct. De-escalation training for new recruits and current officers would also be required. As part of the state budget, a one-time grant would create a program to help departments pay for body cameras for police officers.

As lawmakers take on these and many other important issues, there are multiple resources to help Hoosiers stay informed on proposals being considered.

Track legislation, and watch committee meetings and session live at iga.in.gov.

Keep up with what is going on at the Statehouse by signing up for your state representative’s email newsletter the bottom of the page at IndianaHouseRepublicans.com.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates.

Indiana releases COVID-19 vaccine plan

Indiana recently rolled out a plan to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, and Hoosier first responders, health care workers and those 80 years and older are currently eligible.

Visit ourshot.in.gov to find out if you are eligible, locate a nearby vaccination site and sign up for an appointment. Those who do not have access to a computer can call 211 to register from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily – including weekends.

This vaccine is administered in two doses, 21-28 days apart, and is available at no cost.

Family members can make appointments for loved ones who qualify. Individuals must bring their photo ID to the appointment. At the first appointment, Hoosiers will be required to schedule a time for their second dose.

The Indiana Department of Health will open up vaccinations by age group beginning with people 80 years old and older. Be sure to check ourshot.in.gov frequently for updates.

In addition to wearing masks and social distancing, the coronavirus vaccine provides another level of protection to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Have you already received the vaccine? Make sure you’re on the v-safe after vaccination health checker, a smartphone-based tool that checks in on you after the vaccine.

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