Houchin recaps 2020 legislative session
Over the past few months, it has been my honor to continue serving Senate District 47 at the Statehouse, and to represent our communities.
Since last summer’s interim study committees, my fellow lawmakers and I have been working with community members, stakeholders and industry professionals to craft common sense legislation to improve our state. One of the most meaningful bills I had the opportunity to author and pass this year was Senate Enrolled Act 346.
I filed this bill after learning that students with certain disabilities were prohibited by the Dept. of Education from using specific accommodations on some sections of our state’s standardized tests. These accommodations are available to them in the classroom as part of their individualized education plans or 504’s, yet they were denied for standardized tests. This only serves to highlight these students’ disabilities instead of letting them demonstrate what they know.
SEA 346 addresses this issue by requiring the Indiana Dept. of Education to provide certain accommodations to students in grades 6 to 12 on every section of these assessments if such accommodations are included in the student’s Individualized Education Program or 504 plan. SEA 346 is a huge step forward for our special education students, and I look forward to seeing the improvements we will make in the future. The bill also created a task force to study what we must do to allow for students in grades 3 to 5 to also have their accommodations in a way that doesn’t violate federal law.
I also supported legislation to pay cash for capital projects approved in Indiana’s most recent state budget. This will eliminate nearly $300 million in state debt and save taxpayers $135 million in the future by avoiding interest payments. As a conservative, keeping taxes low is a top priority, and eliminating government debt is one of the best things we can do for long-term savings.
“Additionally, we approved legislation to hold schools and teachers harmless for the most recent ILEARN by preventing last year’s scores from negatively impacting school accountability grades and teacher evaluations. Like many parents and educators, I support accountability; however, it must be done fairly and consistently. It would not achieve either to hold schools and teachers accountable for a new test that also didn’t provide special education students with needed testing accommodations.
Furthermore, we took steps to address the increasing costs of health care by creating the framework for an All Payer Claims Database, which patients will be able to use to compare health care costs and providers, giving greater transparency in pricing to patients. This legislation also allows employers to better access information about the cost of covered service when negotiating contracts for employees and requires hospitals to post average pricing for commonly provided services online for patient review. These are just a small part of our ongoing efforts aimed at driving down health care costs for Hoosiers.
It remains my privilege to represent our Southern Indiana communities, and I look forward to continuing our work in the months and years ahead.