INDIANAPOLIS- State Senator Earline Rogers (D-Gary) proposed various bills during the recently adjourned legislative session that were approved by the General Assembly and are expected to be signed into law by the governor. Most new laws will become effective July 1, 2014. The initiatives cover topics regarding education, health programs, and school bus identification.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004, sponsored by Sen. Rogers, establishes a pre-kindergarten pilot program in five counties. The program will be available to about 4,000 low-income children in households making up to 127% of the federal poverty level (represents a family of four earning up to $30,289 annually). Public schools, charter schools, private entities, child care providers and child care ministries that meet certain criteria will be able to participate. The act also establishes a longitudinal study be conducted to follow the children who participate through school and compare to children in schools who do not participate in a pre-k program. In addition, the bill creates the Prekindergarten and Early Learning Study Commission that will be charged with examining the feasibility of receiving block grants, obtaining a Child Care and Development Block Grant, or partnering with business, philanthropic, or community leaders to fund prekindergarten and early learning programs. A final report of the committee’s findings and recommendations must be submitted to the Legislative Council by November 1, 2014.
Sen. Rogers authored SEA 329, which requires home inspections to include the inspection of basements, crawl and attic spaces. Additionally, a home inspector must provide a statement indicating the existence of a carbon monoxide detector in the home. This proposal requires a written agreement between the homeowner and the inspector prior to the examination of the home.
SEA 354 establishes the Hoosier Women Veterans Program under the Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs (IDVA) to address the issues and needs of Hoosier women currently serving, or who have formerly served in the Armed Forces or the National Guard. Under the act co-authored by Sen. Rogers, a coordinator will be appointed to administer the implementation and management of benefits for the state’s female veterans. IDVA will oversee the program and fund its budget. The Hoosier Women Veterans Program will also be responsible for connecting participants with services and benefits offered at the state and federal level. In addition, the act authorizes county executives to appoint a local service officer for a four-year term to serve veterans on the county level.
Sen. Rogers sponsored HEA 1358, which extends the expiration date for the Office of Minority Health from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2017. Established in 1991, the Office of Minority Health funds minority health programs and expands, develops, and implements community awareness of minority health problems. The office is also charged with conducting research within minority populations as well as monitoring minority health progress. In addition, the act requires a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at any age to be reported to the birth problems registry (current law provides reporting be made before a child’s fifth birthday). HEA 1358 allows not more than 50 percent of the monies in the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Fund to be used to develop a statewide trauma system. Lastly, the act requires the state Department of Health to adopt rules concerning the regulation of facilities for treatment of traumatic brain injuries, and to make recommendations to the Legislative Council and Health Finance Commission concerning food handling law changes.
Sen. Rogers also sponsored HEA 1303 which requires the State School Bus Committee to adopt and enforce rules to require that each school bus placed into service for the first time bear in black letters on the back of the bus an indication that the bus is required to stop at all railroad crossings, and the name of the school corporation. Another provision of the act provides that school bus drivers must obtain a physical examination certificate from an individual registered in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. School corporations will determine how an examiner is selected and who must pay for the exams.
Sen. Rogers represents Indiana Senate District 3 which encompasses portions of Lake County. District 3 communities include Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart, Ainsworth, Merrillville and Crown Point.For more information on Sen. Rogers, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s3.