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2019 legislative session concludes

By State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg)

The Indiana General Assembly recently concluded the 2019 session, passing 293 of the 1,344 bills authored this year.

Among these bills was House Enrolled Act 1001, Indiana’s next biennial budget. Under HEA 1001, the legislature appropriated an additional $763 million to K-12 education. With this increase, out of every dollar our state spends on education, 93 cents will go to traditional public schools, 4.5 cents will go to public charter schools and 2.5 cents will go to Choice Scholarship Program vouchers.

This money will provide local schools with the support they need, ensuring our students have access to quality instruction and resources.

In addition to our state’s budget, the Indiana General Assembly passed a number of bills I worked on this session.

Senate Enrolled Act 133 requires a pharmacist who dispenses prescription drugs that contain or are derived from opium to list on the label that the drug is an opioid. This will improve consumer awareness to help reduce unintentional drug addiction, especially among our older generations.

Senate Enrolled Act 170 requires the Indiana Department of Child Services to include in its child fatality report whether each death occurred while the child was placed in foster care, or once the child, after being in foster care, was returned to a birth parent. This additional information will give us the answers we need to approach the issue of child abuse and neglect from the right angle.

Senate Enrolled Act 278 begins addressing Indiana’s high infant mortality rate by allowing a local health department, hospital, person or entity approved by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to establish a local Fetal-Infant Mortality Review Team to review fetal and infant deaths that occur in the area. The regional review teams will report to a new Statewide Fetal-Infant Mortality Review Coordinator at the ISDH.

House Enrolled Act 1002 helps address the teacher shortage in our state by requiring the Indiana State Board of Education to replace our current teacher licensing exams with new nationally administered exams by 2020. A number of teaching candidates have been failing the tests required of them since our state changed to a customized exam five years ago, and many schools are relying on substitute teachers.

House Enrolled Act 1547 helps keep Indiana mothers and their babies healthy by allowing minors who are 16 and 17 years old to consent to health care if they are pregnant, in labor or postpartum. The bill requires health care providers to make a reasonable effort to contact the minor’s parent or guardian for consent before providing services.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding these topics or others, contact me by email at Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.