(BEDFORD) – Local legislators met with Lawrence County residents this morning at the Bedford of Chamber of Commerce.
Indiana District 44 Senator Eric Koch, Indiana Representative District 73, Steve Davisson and Indiana Representative District #65, Chris May, attended this morning’s Breakfast With The Legislatures. The three updated attendees on the bills that are making their way through the House and Senate.
The legislature session is half-complete with bills in the Senate moving over to the House and vice versa as they try to get legislation passed.
Approximately 30 bills in the Senate and approximately 30 bills in the House made it out of committees in an attempt to become law. A total of 450 bills originated in the House and Senate.
Eric Koch, who represents District #44, is Chairman, of the Judiciary Committee this year. Chris May is vice-chairman on the Local Government Committee and both men are working to get bills out of their respective committees.
Some of the bills drawing attention include House Bill 1001 which intends to hold teachers harmless from ILEARN results.
Indiana transitioned to the new I-LEARN exam, which is a state standardized program required by federal law. The new legislation would ensure state accountability grades and teachers’ evaluations are not negatively impacted by the scores for two years.
The I-Learn exam is taken on a computer by students in grades 3 through 8 in order to gauge student achievements in various subjects. When schools made the switch to this new test last year, lower test scores were expected.
To give students, educators, and schools time to adapt to the new exam, the proposed legislation would hold teachers and schools harmless for test results in 2019-2020.
The next bill, House Bill 1002 is related to returning local control to school boards in evaluating teachers. Student learning is measured in a variety of ways; the proposed legislation would remove the requirements that standardized test scores inform teacher evaluations and pay.
Local school districts best understand the strengths and weaknesses of their teaching staff and how to accurately assess their effectiveness in the classroom. With this legislation, local school districts would have a choice in how to use the results when evaluating teachers.
House Bill 1003 gives flexibility in determining state education requirements to best serve their students.
A proposed new law would empower local schools to determine which education laws and requirements are unnecessarily burdensome and apply for a waiver with the State Board of Education to bypass certain regulations.
This bill would also revise a 2019 law regarding 1 of 4 teacher licensure renewal options. Under one of those options, teachers can develop a Professional Growth Plan and earn 90 points or hours over five years. With this bill, it will no longer require that 15 of those points be obtained through professional development related to their community workforce needs.
Legislatures are also looking at requiring hospitals and facilities focused on providing outpatient services to disclose estimated costs of medical procedures. Patients need this information in order to make decisions regarding their health care without worrying about getting hit with costly and unexpected medical bills.
Other topics of discussion included talking about Investor Owned Utilities to lease broadband to providers on their infrastructure. Currently, electric cooperatives only are able to provide those services at this time by legislation. The Investor-Owned Utilities are heavily regulated in this area.
Chris May, who authored House Bill 1370, says the bill helps rural cities like Bedford and Mitchell with housing issues. Land banking is already permitted by state statue however funding is a challenge for the small rural communities.
This will bring together public and private partnerships through a Redevelopment Commission to administer the land banking concept in rural communities.
Lawrence County Veterans Affairs Officer Brad Bough asked about the Indiana Department of Affairs that has not recognized the Korean War Conflict. Bough and Bob Cline would like these veterans recognized because they are not receiving the benefits they are entitled to. The legislatures asked Bough and Cline to prepare a statement with their concerns and they would look into the issue.
Prosecutor Sam Arp asked about any legislative measures that could be used to recruit more Indiana State Police trooper as they are struggling to find recruits.
According to legislatures, every type of employer is finding it difficult to find trained workers. To meet those needs locally, the North Lawrence Career Center is creating a strategic plan to identify the needs of the local workforce. North Lawrence Community Schools Suptertindent Ty Mungle asked the legislatures to continue to support the Career Center and their efforts.
David Holmes asked about robocalls and what efforts are being done to address this issue. The legislators said one of the difficulties in trying to keep up with the technology. But the federal government is also working to address this issue and deal with it.
Those attending this morning were asked about if they were for or against the following:
- Governor’s proposal on Hands-Free Driving requirement (Cannot use a cell phone while driving)
- Raising the legal age from 18 to 21 for smoking and vaping
- Helmet required for persons under the age of 18 when riding a bicycle.
- And if they were pleased with the result in progress on the 20-year road improvement plan.