When this year’s Indiana General Assembly session closed, another chapter of AARP Indiana’s Legislative Team concluded with securing 10 victories for older Hoosiers.
The Statehouse was abuzz with frenzied energy for the better part of three months as lawmakers ushered bills through the process.
“We’re proud of the work our Legislative Team was able to accomplish on behalf of Hoosiers,” AARP Indiana State Director Sarah Waddle said. “This team of volunteers and staff stayed focused and accomplished tremendous feats that will make a significant impact on people throughout the state.
“Knowing this year’s legislature worked through a short session, we’re even more proud of what we accomplished.”
Let’s breakdown AARP Indiana’s wins during the 2020 Legislative Session:
SEA 148 Veto
Senate Enrolled Act 148 would have stripped local governments of their ability to enact meaningful legislation to protect renters from landlord retaliation, hasty evictions, as well as other aspects of the relationship between landlords and tenants. The facts show that it would have negatively impacted 30 percent of Indiana’s population – the more than 2 million people in this state that rent. It would have been a major roadblock in reaching the ‘next level’ of public health and stabilization of the state’s housing market. AARP Indiana joined more than 18 organizations urging Governor Holcomb to veto the bill, and he did just that. AARP Indiana will work to ensure that Governor Holcomb’s veto is not overridden by the legislature.
HB 1279 doesn’t get a final vote
An amendment added to a Local Transportation Projects bill for Northwest Indiana would have ignored the will of nearly 60 percent of Marion County voters who approved expansion of IndyGo’s mass transit options in a 2016 referendum and ground the agency’s progress to a halt on projects people of all ages are counting on for mobility, getting to work, and more. It was all done with zero public input. AARP Indiana and its community partners advocated against the bill, fighting all the way to the last day of session to stop it. It didn’t get a final vote in the House of Representatives.
HEA 1070 – Distracted Driving
Starting July 1, it will be illegal for drivers to hold or use a telecommunications device while driving, with few exceptions being made (such as using a hands-free device or when dialing 911). According to AARP’s research, distracted driving is a factor in 15 to 30 percent of all vehicular crashes. This law will save lives.
SEA 19 – Electronic Technology for Ophthalmic Prescriptions
With SEA 19 being signed into law, Hoosiers have greater access to eye healthcare. This expansion of care lifts the restrictions on ophthalmologists and optometrists in prescribing eye glasses or contact lenses through telemedicine. There are still protections for patients and consumers, and Hoosiers can now enjoy this service, which was already an option for residents of 37 other states.
HEA 1207 – Pharmacy Matters
The battle over HEA 1207 was a long, arduous one. The Legislative Team fought for more transparency in prescription drug costs.
“Pharmaceutical companies hired as many lobbyists as they could to fight us on this legislation,” Ambre Marr, AARP Indiana Legislative Director, said. “While we did not get the transparency language we wanted, we did not come up empty-handed.”
HEA 1207 included language that gives people a timely appeals process if their insurer’s drug formulary changes – which could help them maintain the use of life-saving and life-changing prescriptions.
SB 92 – Private Sector Retirement Savings Program
This bill tasks one of the legislature’s interim committees to study the feasibility of establishing a private sector retirement savings program in Indiana for the benefit of private sector workers who do not have access to any kind of pension or retirement plan from their employers.
SB 411 – Leasing of Broadband Capacity Infrastructure
AARP Indiana continues to fight for better access to broadband Internet for rural and underserved Hoosiers. Under this legislation, an interim study committee may review if getting broadband access to unserved or underserved residents is in the public interest (it is), the capability of electric utilities to support its deployment, what rules need to be in place for leasing broadband capacity infrastructure to providers, and the potential to establish a pilot program for leasing the needed infrastructure.
HEA 1392 – Physician Assistants and Nurses
This law, which goes into effect January 1, 2021, helps expedite the process of obtaining a death certificate. It allows an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who is last in attendance upon the deceased to certify the cause of death of a deceased individual. That APRN can then enter or sign a record on the death into the Indiana Death Registration System. During a family’s most difficult time, it’s important to make the legal processes surrounding it as simple as possible. This law will help do that.
SEA 255 – Insulin Drugs
This legislation repeals a provision that requires an individual to possess a prescription to purchase an insulin drug – specifically human insulin. Hoosiers will be able to acquire this basic insulin over the counter starting in January 2021.
SEA 139 – Adult Guardianship Services
SEA 139 codifies details of Indiana’s volunteer advocates for seniors and incapacitated adults programs. It streamlines and combines two existing programs to the benefit of the people served and puts language that follows National Guardianship standards in writing. When this law goes into effect, the Indiana Supreme Court will also certify volunteer advocates appointed by lower courts for seniors and incapacitated adults.
“It was an eventful short session,” Marr said. “We can’t wait to get back at it and advocate on behalf of older Hoosiers and their communities.”
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