SENATE STILL HARD AT WORK IN INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
While the right-to-work deadlock in the House of Representatives has dominated headlines during much of the 2012 legislative session, my colleagues in the Senate continue to debate, discuss, and vote on many other important public policy initiatives that will improve the lives of Hoosiers and those who visit our state. These initiatives will help to honor our veterans returning home from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, make our local governments fairer and our homes safer, and ensure our children are prepared for a global workforce.
I wanted to update you on a few key pieces of legislation that the Senate has considered over the last three weeks.
Recent statistics show as many as 20,000 victims are forced into a life of sex for sale each year. Law enforcement officers expect a significant influx of prostitution and other illicit sexual activity surrounding Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis next month. That's why Senate members wasted no time passing a bill updating human trafficking laws in our state.
Senate Bill 4 received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate and now awaits action in the House. Of particular value is the way it will increase protection for minors. Statistics show the younger the victim is, the higher the price paid. The legislation would also penalize collaborators of all forced sexual acts, not just prostitution.
Headlines in May were anything but positive for Indiana, as news outlets and bloggers announced such things as "The Indiana Supreme Court Guts Fourth Amendment" and "Indiana Supreme Court Dispenses with Magna Carta, Constitution." It was all in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that said police can force their way into a person's home without a warrant if they deem such entry is necessary.
Members of the Indiana Senate have worked together to clarify our state's self-defense laws and we passed Senate Bill 1 with overwhelming support. This legislation allows resistance to illegal police entry except for certain situations such as violent crime or hot pursuit, when police need to take quick action to respond to criminal threats. Ultimately, this would balance respect for private property rights with police safety.
I think we can all agree that Hoosier veterans have gone above and beyond the call of duty during our nation's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many enlisting for multiple tours of service. Senate lawmakers have worked together in crafting a pair of proposals that would give some financial and educational assistance to military families who deserve our thanks and gratitude.
Senate Bill 253 waives training requirements for certain professional licenses if a veteran has learned and practiced those same skills during military service. In addition, veterans would be able to obtain temporary professional licenses while they work to fulfill any unmet requirements.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 31 would extend the eligibility period for Indiana service members and their families to receive assistance from the Military Family Relief Fund (MFRF). It would also allow our National Guard members activated for state duty to receive this emergency financial assistance.
While the Senate continues to debate and hear testimony on important initiatives, our work is never done. I want to assure you that I will continue to work on your behalf and make your voice heard in the Indiana Statehouse.
As always, I invite you to contact my office with your comments and concerns. Please call 1-800-382-9467 and give me feedback on any issues or concerns you might have.