Indiana House Republicans will rally behind a package of laws in the 2023 session that emphasize fiscal responsibility, expand Hoosiers’ access to health care and increase work-based learning and school choice programs.
He also calls for the House GOP to put special emphasis on a bill that seeks to allow child support for pregnant women.
House Speaker Todd Houston, R. Fishers, laid out the priorities for his caucus Thursday, days after Senate Republicans announced their 2023 agenda. Both houses agree to lower standard health care costs, and ensuring the proper and prudent spending of government dollars is critical.
But lawmakers from the Republican Party in the Senate excluded any educational topics from their list of priorities this session. It also remains unclear whether either house would support a proposal by Governor Eric Holcomb to eliminate textbook and K-12 curriculum fees for all Hoosier students.
“We’re going to spend about half of the state budget on education,” Houston said during a news conference Thursday. “Where is he going and how are things going… I just want to make sure our caucus and our committee have a chance to take stock of all of that.”
Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Phil Giaquinta, R-Ft., said the House Republicans’ agenda for 2023 added to the “same no-nonsense ideas” as in years past.
“Over a decade of Republican politics and lack of investment, our people, our most valuable resource, have left us with historic public health and education crises,” Giaquinta said in a statement. “These same policies will not get us out of 10 years of wandering in the desert.”
More work-based learning – and more school choice
Proposed changes to the secondary school curriculum have been put in place HB1002Written by Rep. Chuck Goodrich, R-Noblesville.
The bill seeks to expand work-based learning in Indiana high schools, such as apprenticeships and internships. In addition, the bill would create a framework for students to obtain post-secondary credentials before leaving the K-12 system.
Huston said the bill is part of a caucus plan to allow more work-based learning based on a student’s graduation requirements.
“We can make sure whether kids are going into a post-secondary workforce program or they’re going to a two- or four-year college, we can give them the skills they need to start making an impact in the experience,” Houston said, stressing the need for more flexibility. It has to be relevant, and it has to be applied.”
Republicans at home income It will also continue a years-long push to continue expanding the availability of state dollars for Hoosier students to attend private schools.
Under the Indiana Scholarship Program, which allows families to obtain vouchers to attend private schools, the current annual income limit for a family of four is about $154,000 — about 300% of the amount required for a student to qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program.
Huston said the income cap could increase further this session.
“We believe – and I’ve always been, I think, consistent in that … Parents should have the opportunity to send their children to a school that best meets their needs,” he said, adding that he “would like to see” the program become universal. “We’ll see if that’s the case.”
About 44,000 students took advantage of the voucher during the 2021-22 school year, at a cost to the government of about $240 million.
Ensuring that the state’s investments are focused on returns
a invoice Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Logansport, will ensure that Indiana Public Pension Fund investment strategies “remain focused on maximizing returns and not on political and social issues,” Huston said.
“They need to stop working with some of the banks and investment firms where they focus on those kinds of policies,” he said, pointing to Vanguard, for example, which recently pulled out of the Investment Industry Climate Change Initiative.
“My focus is on the fact that their job is to invest and maximize returns. Our job is to create public policy,” Huston said. “If they want to create public policy, they should run for elected office.”
State law already requires the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) to focus solely on maximizing financial benefits, rather than anything else. Huston said that Manning’s bill “clarifies and ensures this is the policy”.
Expanding resources for women and children
The House Republican Party will also take priority, Houston said HB1009, by Rep. Elizabeth Roray, R-Yorktown, that would allow child support payments to be made when pregnant. Huston said he believes unborn children owe a duty of support from both parents.
The bill would allow additional Medicaid reimbursement for pregnancy and childbirth expenses by extending the period in which child support can be claimed to 40 weeks before the baby is born, according to the bill.
In addition, the conference will also address rising health care costs, Houston said. It’s an issue that Senate Republicans and Olcomb have also prioritized.
The Speaker said he was “largely disappointed” with the “lack of action” by Indiana insurers and nonprofit hospitals to address rising health care prices, especially after they called in December of 2021 for a cost-cutting plan for Hoosier patients.
Especially, HB1003 And HB1004 It aims to increase competition in both the service provider and insurance markets. The measures also seek to demand more transparency about the prices not-for-profit hospitals charge.
“We’re talking about making sure we have robust pools of options for people to go to, you know, for more transparency, and if you’re above a certain price, there will be penalties,” Heston said. “We need to see more competition in the market, and we’re looking for incentives to make that happen.”
House Republicans will also try to allocate more dollars to help communities across the state increase access to affordable housing. HB1005submitted by Rep. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart, would build on some of the recommendations from the Housing Task Force last year.
Also important on the House Republican agenda is A.J invoice That would ensure that individuals with mental health conditions receive treatment in local hospitals, rather than in prisons. another priority measure, HB1007which Heston said will support a “diversified and robust power plan that ensures reliability and affordability.”
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