Friday, January 8, 2021
This week the General Assembly reconvened at the Statehouse for the 2021 legislative session, and Senate Republicans announced their collective priorities for the coming months.
First and foremost, Senate Republicans will be working to pass the state's ninth consecutive balanced budget.
In order to give businesses and organizations the confidence they need to fully reopen operations, Senate Bill 1 has been introduced in an effort to help protect businesses and individuals by giving them immunity from civil liability for damages if someone is exposed to COVID-19 on their property or during an activity they organized. This immunity would not apply if the party engages in gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Likewise, Senate Bill 4 would expand the existing civil liability protections that apply to health care services rendered during a disaster emergency.
To support schools who have had to dramatically change their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, Senate Bill 2 would provide full per-student funding for the remainder of the school year to schools who have students learning virtually due to COVID-19.
Senate Bill 3 would permanently codify many of the expansions in telehealth implemented during the pandemic to ensure that all Hoosiers have access to the health care they need regardless of where they live.
Senate Bill 5 would allow anyone who is subject to a public emergency-related enforcement action under a local health department order to appeal their case to the relevant local legislative body. Many local health departments have acted admirably and courageously to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but the reality is that appointed health departments – rather than local elected officials – are currently able to make enforcement decisions that have a major impact on members of the community. SB 5 would improve public accountability by giving elected officials greater oversight of these decisions.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all that is on the table this session, these are the biggest issues Senate Republicans look to resolve. To see all of the bills that have been introduced so far, click here.