By Giavonni Nickson
During the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly many prominent pieces of legislation were debated, approved, and signed into law by Governor Eric J. Holcomb. Indiana Senate Democrats pushed to progress laws that strengthen the fabric of economic development, community schools, safety, and healthcare for residents throughout the state. For Gary, the signing of historic gaming legislation House Bill 1015 provided steady footing for an economic development plan designed to revitalize the city after a tenure of resident exodus and financial decline.
As of July 1, Indiana residents can experience the new gaming privileges created by House Enrolled Act 1015- Various Gaming Matters (HEA 1015). Sports wagering is one of the new items included in the legislature’s latest gaming bill, something many residents across the state have been looking forward to participating in. The economic development project in Gary was also made possible by the passage of HEA 1015. This new law allows Spectacle Entertainment, which owns Gary’s Majestic Star Casinos, to build a new facility near the Borman Expressway. Gary will welcome this new boutique casino which will include a unique and inviting casino floor, 200-room hotel, parking garage, meeting rooms, entertainment options, restaurants, and lounges. The gaming bill also clears a path for a new casino in Terre Haute. The new and more optimally located casino is slated to bring at least 400 new gaming jobs to the city.
Many other new laws in the short list of bills are effective July 2019.
Education and School Safety School Bus Safety-Senate Enrolled Act 2
During the 2019 legislative session, legislators were made aware of the danger that children are put in when crossing the road to board a school bus. After a devastating tragedy that killed three young children on October 30, 2018 in Fulton County, the Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 2 was drafted to create new safety provisions for school buses and their drivers and punishments for those who do not stop for a school bus. This new bill will increase safety measures of all students in Indiana.
Self defense, defense of others, and firearms matters-House Enrolled Act 1284
HB1284 contains two important changes to Indiana law concerning carrying a firearm. First, HB1284 allows a person who legally possesses a firearm to possess a firearm on school property if that person is an employee or volunteer of a house of worship located on the school property. This also permits someone who legally possesses a firearm to do so while attending a worship service or religious ceremony conducted at a house of worship. Secondly, HB1284 provides immunity for the justified use of force in certain instances. It will require a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to a defendant when the justified use of force immunity is successfully raised.
Healthcare Programs and Services Substance Abuse Prevention Grant Programs-Senate Enrolled Act 111
To upgrade the standard for mental and physical health programs SEA 111 was approved to provide and promote grant programs for individuals who have substance abuse.
Health Provider Ethical Exemption- Senate Enrolled Act 201
Indiana law will now include nurses, physicians’ assistants, and pharmacists in the prohibition from being required to perform an abortion. This prohibition also allows these individuals to refuse to assist or participate in procedures intended to result in an abortion if the health care provider objects to the procedures on ethical, moral, or religious grounds. SB201 allows certain medical providers to refuse to prescribe, administer, or dispense an abortion-inducing drug.
Senate Enrolled Act 416- Medicaid coverage for doula services
Indiana’s infant mortality rate is one of the worst in the United States. This session Senator Jean Breaux fought for SB416, which allows doula services to be reimbursed by Medicaid. This is a positive step in line with Governor Holcomb’s goal to lower Indiana’s infant mortality rate.
Senate Enrolled Act 498- Mobile integration healthcare
Hoosiers health care options have been strengthened with the creation of an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) paramedicine program. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 498 will allow paramedics to be reimbursed by Medicaid for primary care they give to patients. Medics already have the knowledge and capability to treat these patients in their own homes for routine care. This legislation aims to help prevent Indiana residents from falling through the cracks when it comes to their healthcare.
Employment Unemployment Matters-House Enrolled Act 1062
Indiana’s unemployment rate sits at about 3.6 percent. The House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1062, which makes several changes to the unemployment compensation law. HEA 1062 will create a better environment for those who are unemployed in Indiana and is an attempt to lower Indiana’s unemployment rate.
Giavonni is a passionate freelance writer native of Gary IN. She covers business, politics, and community schools for the Chicago/Gary Crusader.