This week in the Senate, all members of the Senate Democratic Caucus continued to push for committee hearings as we quickly approach the committee report deadline and gave powerful testimony in committees and on the Senate floor. Learn more about what happened at the Statehouse this week:

Melton mobile driver’s license bill progresses

SB 182, authored by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary), would give Hoosiers the opportunity to access their driver’s license on their mobile device. This week the full Senate voted 47-1 to move this bill to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Stoops highlights hypocrisy in Republican supermajority

Senate Republicans’ support of a proposal, SB 383, that bans BB guns on school property was called hypocritical by State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) this week. While Sen. Stoops also supported the measure, he was disappointed at Senate Republicans’ willingness to pass legislation that protects children from BB guns, while his child safety bill, which aims to protect kids by requiring gun owners to store their weapons securely to ensure that children don’t gain access to them, has yet to be given a hearing. The final day for Senate bills to be heard in committee is February 21.

Mrvans sex offender and child care services proposal moves to House

State Senator Frank Mrvan’s (D-Hammond) SB 258, which closes a loophole in the law that allows sex offenders to work as child care providers, was approved unanimously in the Senate this week. It will now go to the House for further consideration.

If there was an award for busiest Senate Democrats this week, State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) and State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) would have won it. The two collectively had nine bills making progress through the General Assembly.

State Senator Karen Tallian proposals progress through General Assembly

Sen. Tallian saw multiple bills move through the legislature this week. Senate Bill (SB) 553 was approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Tallian’s proposal defines the right for the public to use the Lake Michigan shoreline for recreational activities. Another of Sen. Tallian’s bills was heard in committee this week, SB 358. This legislation would increase the benefits for workplace injuries by 10 percent each year for three years. Many times, the cost of workplace injuries is borne by workers and their families, and this bill would have helped resolve this issue. Unfortunately, the Republicans of the Pension and Labor Committee voted this bill down.

Two of Sen. Tallian’s bills are awaiting to be considered and voted upon by the full Senate. SB 496 tasks the Department of Insurance (DOI) to develop a proposal creating an insurance program that would provide wages for working families who need to take time off work to care for a sick family member or newborn child. By tapping into DOI’s expertise, Sen. Tallian hopes to design an affordable family leave program available to any Hoosier. SB 498, Sen. Tallian’s 4th bill on the move this week, would create a stateside paramedicine program, in short, allowing paramedics to provide acute care and disease management. Communities all over the state need this program as it would provide rapid response for those who might overdose, or even just to help people manage individuals’ long-term illnesses.

State Senator David Niezgodski proposals progress through General Assembly

Sen. Niezgodski is pleased to see several bills moving through the Senate this week. One of his bills has been approved by the Senate and will make its way to the House for further consideration. This proposal, SB 512, aims to assist the state’s airline employees. The proposal would help employees reinstate the popular practice of shift trading so that they can better manage their personal lives.

Another bill is now being considered by the full Senate body. Sen. Niezgodski’s legislation, SB 289, will require state agencies to report back to the General Assembly the frequency and scope of Indiana’s worker misclassification problem. This harmful practice allows employers to evade paying certain taxes and benefits for employees. SB 289 aims to provide the legislature with the data and tools to be able to combat this problem in order to help the state’s working families.

Three of Sen. Niezgodski’s bills are in front of committees this week. SB 513 increases the amount of money individuals can receive during a natural disaster. When a catastrophic event occurs in Indiana, Hoosiers deserve enough funds to be able to overcome disasters when they occur. SB 513 was approved by the Homeland Security and Transportation Committee and will be reviewed by the Appropriations Committee before going to the Senate floor.

Next Monday, both SB 139 and SB 398 will be heard in committees. The Senator’s proposal, SB 139, seeks to expand our youth’s right to vote by allowing college students to use their student IDs at the polls. This bill will be heard in the Senate Elections Committee. Sen. Niezgodski’s other proposal, SB 398, will also be heard on Monday in the Senate Family and Children Services Committee. SB 398 will require the Department of Child Services to provide subsidy payments to parents who adopt special needs children. Foster parents receive funds to help care for their foster children, and many of these parents end up wanting to adopt those kids. Unfortunately, these foster parents may lose those helpful subsidy funds when they decide to adopt. Sen. Niezgodski aims to make sure all parents who want to adopt a special needs child have the ability to do so.