The Indiana General Assembly’s 2017 legislative session came to an end Saturday, April 22, with the passage of several important pieces of legislation for our state.
In contrast to the partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., all but a handful of the bills that passed the General Assembly this year had bipartisan support in the Senate. In fact, more than half passed with unanimous support.
This session, Indiana Senate Republicans worked to deliver on the priorities we outlined in January, and I am confident the legislation that passed will positively impact the state of Indiana moving forward.
Below are the priorities we laid out at the beginning of the session and how we addressed them.
Pass another two-year balanced budget
This session, State Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) continued his leadership role in crafting the state’s next two-year budget – House Enrolled Act 1001. The newly passed budget includes funding increases for both K-12 and higher education, support for our veterans, and resources to help fight Indiana’s drug epidemic, all while remaining balanced and maintaining $1.8 billion in rainy-day reserves.
Create a long-term road funding plan
State Sen. Michael Crider (R-Greenfield) sponsored House Enrolled Act 1002, a 20-year, long-term road funding plan that provides Indiana with $1.2 billion each year for Indiana roads, including approximately $850 million for state highways and $350 million for local roads.
Pass a balanced budget amendment
State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) authored Senate Joint Resolution 7, which allows Hoosier voters to consider a balanced-budget amendment to the Indiana Constitution. If approved by voters, this amendment would prohibit state spending from exceeding state revenue unless two-thirds of the Indiana General Assembly deems it necessary to use emergency spending measures.
Fight opioid abuse through prevention, enforcement and treatment
State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) has been working tirelessly to fight the opioid and heroin-abuse epidemic for some time. This session, he helped pass an important prevention measure with Senate Enrolled Act 226, which aims to keep excess opioids from falling into the wrong hands by limiting opioid prescription amounts for patients who are being prescribed opioids for the first time.
House Enrolled Act 1406, sponsored by State Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), addresses enforcement issues by enhancing criminal penalties for dealing heroin.
Our state budget, HEA 1001, includes $10 million for addiction treatment and other programs overseen by the Governor’s Task Force on Drug Enforcement, Treatment and Prevention.
Replace the state’s outdated ISTEP exam
State Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) sponsored House Enrolled Act 1003, which replaces Indiana’s outdated ISTEP test with a new testing system that will take less time away from classroom instruction, provide faster results, and give high school students multiple pathways to earn a high school diploma.
Improve Career and Technical Education
State Sen. Doug Eckerty (R-Yorktown) authored legislation to improve Career and Technical Education (CTE) with Senate Enrolled Act 198. This legislation increases per-student funding for high-school CTE courses in high-wage, high-demand job fields and establishes a new Workforce Ready Grant program to provide financial aid to students working toward a job certificate in a high-value industry.
Fix Indiana’s e-liquids law
State Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) worked to fix Indiana’s flawed e-liquids law with Senate Enrolled Act 1. SEA 1 brings us into compliance with federal rules and eliminates state regulations that created unfair restrictions on competition, all while maintaining strong health and safety protections for consumers.
As always, I welcome your questions, comments or concerns regarding these topics or others. My office can be reached by phone at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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