INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly has discussed several proposals to start the 2015 legislative session. State Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) has authored a number of initiatives, focusing on issues related to fair pay, racial profiling and handgun training.

Availability of funds to recycling board

Senate Bill (SB) 43 would allow the Indiana Recycling Market Development Board to make a loan or a grant from the Recycling Promotion and Assistance Fund without the approval of the governor and the Budget Agency if the board provides notice in writing to the governor and the Budget Agency of the board’s intention to make the loan or grant and the governor and the Budget Agency do not inform the board in writing of their disapproval of the proposed loan or grant within 60 days after being provided notice of the proposed loan or grant. The board, without the approval of the governor and the Budget Agency, would, in each state fiscal year, make loans and grants from the fund in a total amount not greater than 10 percent of the balance in the fund on the first day of the state fiscal year.

Fair pay in employment

Indiana has the 6th largest wage gap between men and women in the nation. Women make 73 cents for every dollar men earn doing comparable work, resulting in a shortfall of approximately $210,000 for women over a 35-year career. With a record number of women in the work force and two-thirds of women functioning as primary or co-bread winner for their family, equal pay is critical to Hoosier families’ economic security. Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Jean D. Breaux is authoring Senate Bill (SB) 44 to give employees facing wage discrimination an opportunity to recoup lost wages and prevent further discrimination.

Meetings by electronic mail

To guarantee transparency in government meetings, the term “meeting” would be amended in SB 45 to be defined as a gathering that occurs by electronic means (including electronic mail) for purposes of the Open Door Policy. E-mail communications between governing body members would qualify as “gatherings” in order to comply with the law prohibiting meetings held by a series of gatherings.

Self defense

Indiana currently has a Stand Your Ground law which states that an individual has no duty to retreat from any place they have lawful right to be and may use any level of force, including lethal, if they reasonably believe they face an imminent and immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death. SB 46 would add clarity to the existing statute in order to not encourage people to take matters into their own hands and claim that their safety was threatened. Specifically, a person would not be justified to use force against another person if the person using force is the initial aggressor, has reached a place of safety after escaping an attack and immediately returns to the location of the attack or is pursuing an attacker or trespasser who has retreated and no longer poses a threat.

Health care professional cultural training

Professionals seeking a license in health care would be required to complete cultural competency training under SB 47. This proposal is a result of a discussion between Indiana Senate Democratic leaders at a number of meetings held in the Statehouse. The meetings were hosted by Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane and consisted of Latino community leaders and advocates from cities around the state to discuss issues important to communities across the state.

Handgun training

An eight-hour handgun safety and training program for any person that applies for a license to carry a handgun after December 31, 2015 would be required under SB 48. This proposal aims to educate new handgun users in order to protect themselves and others, and to avoid accidents. Before an applicant is issued a handgun carrying license, they would have to successfully complete the handgun safety and training program and have their attendance verified. The class would include information on handgun storage, use, handling, ammunition knowledge, firing positions, and education on concealed weapon laws. The applicant must also fire 45 rounds of ammunition before completing the program.

Racial profiling

Indiana is one of 20 states that does not explicitly prohibit racial profiling according to National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Under SB 243 the Adoption of Policy proposal would prohibit a municipal, county, or state law enforcement agency from engaging in racial profiling. The proposal would require a law enforcement agency to adopt a detailed policy that defines the elements of racial profiling.

The proposal would also require law enforcement agencies to report instances of racial profiling to the Attorney General who would then have to report to the Legislative Council based on this information.

Lead-based paint hazard program

Under SB 244 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have to authorize the Indiana State Department of Health to address lead-based paint hazards created by renovation, repair, and painting activities that disturb lead-based paint in certain housing structures and facilities. The initiative would also require Indiana State Department of Health to administer and enforce the EPA’s program in Indiana.

Kidney early evaluation fund

There are 1.5 million obese people living in the state of Indiana, to protect the health of Hoosiers, SB 245 would establish the nonreverting Kidney Early Evaluation Fund, and annually appropriate $50,000 to the fund. The proposal would require quarterly distributions from the fund to the National Kidney Foundation of Indiana to administer the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP), as well as the Foundation to submit an annual report of expenditures from the money distributed from the fund.

Medicare supplement insurance

SB 391 would prohibit certain actions by an insurer that issue Medicare supplement policies in Indiana with respect to an applicant who is less than 65 years of age, becomes eligible for Medicare because of disability, and applies for coverage not more than six months after enrolling for benefits under Medicare Part B.