Older Hoosiers celebrate Statehouse victories

Posted on 03/13/24

Legislative Team 2024

AARP Indiana’s staff and volunteer Legislative Team secured several victories for older Hoosiers during the 2024 Indiana General Assembly.

Ranging from stopping the dismantling of a mass transit project in Indianapolis, to ensuring retired public servants received an additional pension payment, there is much to be proud of.

“This year was a short session for the Indiana General Assembly,” Legislative Director Ambre Marr said. “Due to the abbreviated schedule, this session often felt a bit chaotic, but our members and their communities can be proud of what was accomplished at the Statehouse.”

As of press time, the following bills benefitting older Hoosiers, except SB 52, have either been signed by Governor Eric Holcomb or are awaiting his signature or veto.

HEA 1004 – Pension Matters

“During the 2023 session, despite money being available, retired public employees didn’t receive a 13th check that so many of them depend on,” Marr said. “Ensuring that these Hoosiers were not left out again was a priority for not only AARP Indiana, but many legislators and organizations representing retired public employees,” Marr said.

The extra pension payment, or 13th check as many of these retired public employees refer to it as, is a bonus that gives recipients a financial boost, especially if a cost-of-living adjustment isn’t granted each year.

Thanks to hardworking advocates inside and outside the Indiana General Assembly, HB 1004 was passed by both the Indiana House and Senate, ensuring that that extra pension check lands in retirees’ accounts, as well as establishes a process for future retirees to receive a cost-of-living adjustment.

SB 52 – Prohibition on Use of Dedicated Lanes

SB 52 would have prohibited the construction of dedicated bus lanes in Indianapolis until 2025, which in turn would have killed the Blue Line, a major Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Marion County stretching from the far east side of Indianapolis to the Indianapolis International Airport. Dedicated lanes are a critical component of BRT, which is a mode of transit that improves reliability with buses arriving at regular intervals, regardless of the time of day.

“We are thankful for all the Hoosiers who wrote, called, or otherwise reached out to lawmakers in opposition to this legislation,” Marr said. “People of all ages count on the bus to get around our capital city, and SB 52 would have had a chilling effect on communities looking to expand mobility and transportation options in other parts of the state.”

HEA 1222 – Residential Real Estate Service Agreements

HB 1222 was signed by the governor on March 11 and protects consumers by prohibiting the filing of unfair real estate agreements in property records. Homeowners across the state have fallen victim to these quick-cash marketing techniques used by out-of-state companies which offer Hoosiers a nominal upfront payment in exchange for a 40-year agreement for future services. Indiana is the 18th state to pass legislation prohibiting this practice.

“As communities and their residents age, financial predators are getting sophisticated,” Marr said. “We testified in support of this legislation so we can protect older Hoosiers and the cornerstone of a resident’s financial stability – their home.

SEA 5 – Lead Water Line Replacement and Lead Remediation

This bill gives water utilities another tool to assist in replacing customer-owned lead service lines so that the building’s occupants have clean and safe drinking water. AARP Indiana continues to get in the mix on utility issues and strives to make sure that implementing these kinds of infrastructure improvements are as easy and affordable as possible for residents. Governor Holcomb signed the bill on March 11.

HEA 1068 – Unlicensed Real Estate Solicitors

HEA1068 addresses a predatory practice, sometimes referred to as "wholesaling," in which a vulnerable homeowner is convinced to sell their property significantly below market value. In many cases, the homeowner doesn't know the identity of the buyer until closing, at which time the "wholesaler" walks away with much of the homeowner's equity. This bill curtails the practice, demanding more transparency from buyers and some recourse for homeowners. Governor Holcomb signed the bill on March 11.

“We appreciate every lawmaker that took the time to speak with us and our dedicated team of volunteers,” said Marr. “This session featured many pitched battles over policy, and we’re proud to say that older Hoosiers and their families have so many victories to celebrate.”

HEA 1385 – Payment for Ambulance Services

Language from SB 10, a bill supporting the Community Cares Initiative Grant Pilot Program, was tucked into HEA 1385. The pilot program helps towns and cities develop customized response teams for Hoosiers having behavioral health challenges. These teams would be a part of Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) programs that have been catching on in communities across the state, including Monticello, Crawfordsville, Muncie, and Noblesville. MIH often allows local fire and EMS departments to provide services to older Hoosiers that increase positive health outcomes and reduce hospital readmittance.

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