The fourth annual Indiana Military Veterans Legislative Day took place on Tuesday, January 9, at the Indiana Statehouse. Policymakers from across the state met with veterans and their families in order to discuss important issues related to veterans. Highlighted below are some of the legislative proposals that the Indiana Senate Democrats are pushing this session to help Hoosier veterans.

Tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans

Indiana has a history of ensuring the wellbeing of its veterans. According to a study conducted last year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indiana had the lowest veteran unemployment rate in the nation at 1.8 percent. State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) believes it’s time we reward our businesses for their commitment to the fair treatment of our veterans. Senate Bill (SB) 437 would offer tax credits to small businesses in Indiana that hire unemployed veterans, in the amount of $3,000 per employee. This would not only reward our businesses for their dedication to employing our veterans, but it ensures Indiana continues to set an example for the rest of the nation on respecting and thanking those who served in our nation’s military.

Registry of employers preferring veterans

SB 253, authored by State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond), would require the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to establish and maintain a registry of private employers, local units of governments and labor unions in Indiana that have a voluntary veterans’ preference employment policy. This will make it easier for veterans to look for jobs, and allow the state to better identify which businesses offer veterans preferences for data purposes.

Scratch off tickets to benefit veterans

Since its establishment in 1988, the Hoosier Lottery has generated over $5 billion for charitable causes. SB 344, proposed by Sen. Mrvan, would create a collaboration between vendors and the state lottery commission with the purpose of designating a scratch-off lottery game to benefit Indiana veterans. Proceeds from this game would go to the veterans homelessness assistance fund, which would also be established by this proposal.

Medical marijuana

SB 307, authored by State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage), establishes a medical marijuana program and permits caregivers and patients who have received a physician recommendation to possess a certain quantity of marijuana for treatment of certain medical conditions. The American Legion supports medical marijuana because many veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain – especially those of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation – tell them they achieved improved health care outcomes by foregoing VA-prescribed opioids in favor of medical cannabis. Medical marijuana has been scientifically proven to benefit patients with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases. This session marks the 8th consecutive year Sen. Tallian has proposed  legislation to reform Indiana’s marijuana laws.

Veterans in piping

Senate Concurrent Resolution 4, proposed by State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) is being offered to generate greater Hoosier awareness of a program that has been in effect for a number of years now. Active military personnel can attend an 18-week course offered on eight military bases across the country. Upon completion they have the ability to choose where to work, live and raise a family. The Veterans in Piping (V.I.P.) program helps an active military person transition to civilian life, receive training and a great career in locations across the country. Business owners who are arming themselves for the construction boom of the future realize veterans are perfectly suited to make this transition.

“My intent is to ensure that these Veterans are well aware that Indiana is one of the very best locations in the country to live, work and raise a family,” Sen. Niezgodski said. “They are given a job and inserted directly into an apprenticeship program within the piping industry. Upon completion of their apprenticeship they will have a life long, high paying career. What an incredible way to welcome our Veterans, Home in Indiana.”