This session, I am authoring a number of bills aimed at helping Hoosiers. A few of the issues I will focus on addressing include health matters, solving issues in our foster care system, and protecting our immigrant residents. I believe it is important for constituents to know what their legislators are spending their time on, so here are the highlights of three bills that I am proposing in the 2019 legislative session.

Our youngest Hoosiers are at the most risk when it comes to lead poisoning. In Indiana, the problem is mainly caused by deteriorating lead-based paint in old homes. Therefore, I will be proposing legislation that requires the Indiana State Department of Health to take action to reduce lead poisoning in Indiana.

Additionally, Indiana’s foster care system desperately needs support. After the Department of Children Services (DCS) report that was released earlier this year, I knew we needed legislative changes to improve the agency’s effectiveness for our most vulnerable children. Many foster parents testified at the interim committee last summer indicating a great need for more funds and resources to care for their children. This is why I am introducing a bill that would add a mandatory adoption subsidy given to Indiana foster parents. Currently, foster parents would lose their helpful state per diem if they were to adopt their foster child. With my bill, DCS would be directed to provide an adoption subsidy for children who are eligible.

Along with our foster care children, we have other children in Indiana that need a helping hand, including the state’s hard-working undocumented students. A large percentage of undocumented students have either graduated from a public high school or obtained a GED. It is inconsistent to provide these students with an education that ends at their high school graduation. This is why I am authoring legislation that would grant undocumented students in-state tuition rates. By receiving in-state tuition, we can hope to incentivize these students to complete high school, attend college or pursue other vocational careers. Job shortages caused by Baby Boomer retirements have caused an enormous skills gap that is only just beginning. Employers are in desperate need for qualified mechanics, plumbers, electricians and all other skilled trades. Those pursuing careers as teachers, engineers, mathematicians and other degrees of higher education will be in high demand for generations to come. We need to seek out our best and brightest. That means every person that calls Indiana their home should have an equal opportunity to pursue a college degree or an education in a vocational career that remains affordable.

In addition to my efforts to get these proposals over the finish line, I will also serve on several standing Senate committees. Those include Appropriations, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Environmental Affairs, Rules and Legislative Procedure, and I will also serve as the Ranking Minority Member of the Pensions and Labor Committee. Serving on these committees will place me in a prime position to work on legislation that will help St. Joseph County residents as well as Hoosiers across the state. In the upcoming 2019 budget session, the legislature will have the opportunity to truly make an impact on Hoosier lives. I will be right there doing my part and fighting for you