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Long: Senate Completes Productive First Half of Session
Updated March 2, 2017 7:32 AM
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(STATEHOUSE) - Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) Tuesday marked the halfway point of the 2017 legislative session, noting several important initiatives that have passed the Senate during the last two months.

"We set out at the beginning of this session to build on our state's positive momentum," Long said. "We have made great progress toward that goal, passing legislation that will benefit our state in a variety of ways, including improved education and workforce development efforts, continued fiscal responsibility and expanded efforts to combat illegal drug use."

Some of the issues addressed by the Senate during the first half of session include:

Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment (SJR 7)

  • Amends the Indiana Constitution to require each General Assembly to pass a balanced budget unless two-thirds of both chambers vote to use emergency spending powers.
Improving Career and Technical Education (SB 198)
  • Modernizes funding for high-school Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in high-wage, high-demand job fields, and sends state CTE grants directly to the institutions that provide CTE instruction - whether they be schools, CTE cooperatives or apprenticeship programs.
Fighting the opioid-abuse epidemic

The Senate approved multiple bills that will attack the opioid-abuse epidemic with prevention, enforcement and treatment.

  • Prevention: SB 226 limits opioid prescription amounts for individuals who are being prescribed opioids for the first time.
  • Enforcement: SB 324 enhances the criminal penalties for dealing heroin.
  • Treatment: Pilot programs addressing various forms of addiction treatment, including programs for addicted mothers and chronic drug users, are being recommended to the Governor's Drug Task force for implementation over the next biennium. (SB 243, SB 446, SB 499, SB 510)

Responsible expansion of Indiana's pre-K pilot (SB 276)

  • Expands Indiana's On My Way Pre-K program to eligible students and preschools in any county, with $16 million per year in funding.
  • Promotes parental responsibility by dedicating $1 million per year in pre-K funding to home-based early education services.
Protecting children in school (SB 34)
  • In response to the string of cases involving inappropriate sexual contact between school employees and students, SB 34 requires all school employees who have ongoing interactions with children to undergo a background check every five years.
Supporting Hoosier veterans (SB 517)
  • For 2018 through 2020, allocates $500,000 per year of state lottery revenue to the Veterans' Affairs Trust Fund to pay for veteran services including housing assistance, job training and health programs.
Fixing Indiana's vaping laws (SB 1)
  • Fixes the unintended consequences of Indiana's laws on e-liquid manufacturing by eliminating the rules that created unfair competition and bringing us into compliance with federal rules.
Upholding the rule of law on college campuses (SB 423)
  • Prohibits any Indiana college or university that receives state or federal funds from adopting a "sanctuary campus" policy that would allow them to undermine the laws on illegal immigration.
"As we head into the second half of session, the Senate looks forward to taking up legislation to craft the state's next two-year budget and establish a long-term road funding plan to support our growing economy," Long said. "I expect it to be a fast-paced and productive conclusion to this year's session." All bills that have passed the Senate will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration. By law, the General Assembly must conclude the 2017 session no later than April 29.

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