INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Merrillville) has authored a number of initiatives to be considered by the General Assembly including bills focusing on regional training facilities, education issues and small loans.

Regional training facility for unemployed

Senate Bill (SB) 484 requires the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (NWIRDA) to conduct a study of the feasibility of constructing a regional training facility to be located in the City of Gary that would provide training for displaced workers and long term unemployed individuals. In addition, the bill requires the NWIRDA to submit a copy of the results of the study to the Legislative Council not later than June 30, 2018. This proposal is in partnership with Northwestern Indiana Federation of Labor, the city of Gary and Ivy Tech Community College.

Special education grants

Students with developmental delays between the ages of three and five are currently eligible to receive special education grants. SB 475 would require the State Board of Education to amend its rule to extend the eligible age for grants to the age of nine as of July 1, 2018.

Services for children in lead contamination areas

SB 483 defines the term “lead contamination area” as an area in which children are exposed to lead through the soil, water, or air in their environment, resulting in the need for the children to receive special services to counteract the medical, educational, and developmental problems resulting from exposure to lead during childhood.

Home modification loan pilot program

SB 485 would establish the Home Modification Loan Pilot Program under the administration of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The bill provides that the loans may be used only to modify an eligible individual’s primary dwelling to aid the independent functioning of an individual with disabilities or individual who has a child with disabilities. In addition, the IHCDA would have to make zero-interest or low-interest loans under the pilot program.

Seat belts on school buses

SB 556 provides that a school bus or special purpose bus that is placed into operation after June 30, 2018, and used to transport elementary school or high school students must be equipped with a 3-point lap and shoulder safety belt at each seating location. In addition, the bill requires the Department of Education to establish a grant program to provide grants to school corporations to assist in paying expenses necessary to comply with these new requirements.

Gary schools

To ensure academic progress within the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC), Sen. Melton has authored SB 564 to help get Gary schools back on their feet, academically and financially. The bill would create a Fiscal Management Board to develop a financial plan for the school corporation, provide information, technical assistance and grants.

Small loans

SB 474 would amend the statute concerning small loans from payday lenders requiring more transparency from lenders. Among the bill’s provisions is one that provides that the lender shall offer the borrower the option to repay the initial or subsequent small loan under an extended payment plan.

Early education grant pilot program

Sen. Melton is co-authoring SB 276 that would expand the state’s pre-kindergarten pilot program currently in five counties to an additional five counties.

These bills await committee hearings in the Senate.