By State Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle)
The Indiana General Assembly recently reached the halfway point, which marks when bills in each chamber have been heard, amended, voted on, and passed to the opposite chamber. The Senate has been working hard to craft purpose-driven legislation to benefit Hoosiers, and the following bills are a few I have supported.
To protect businesses, schools, churches, not-for-profit organizations and individuals from lawsuits seeking to hold them liable for the spread of COVID-19, the General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 1. This legislation was recently signed by the governor, giving those entities the confidence needed to safely reopen. This legislation will not protect bad actors, as liability protection is specifically denied in cases of gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
To adapt our laws to the lessons we have learned during this pandemic, under Senate Bill 407, the duration of a state of emergency covering at least 10 counties could not last more than 60 days unless the General Assembly approves an extension. If an emergency covering at least 10 counties is declared when the General Assembly is not in session, or the General Assembly is not called into session, then the emergency could not last more than 45 days.
To protect religious freedom during public emergencies, Senate Bill 263 would ban state and local government from imposing restrictions on religious organizations and religious services that are more restrictive than those imposed on other businesses and organizations deemed "essential services" during a disaster.
In order to benefit farmers impacted by grain failures, I authored Senate Bill 364. This bill would require the Director of Grain Indemnity to share anonymous information disclosing the potential cost to the fund if there is a grain buyer failure and could allow action to be taken if the licensee fails to break even or maintain assets. There will also be several provisions bolstering the audit process required of the Indiana Department of Agriculture.
While these bills are just a few highlights from the first half of session, there are plenty important bills being vetted by the General Assembly to help improve our state. I look forward to a productive second half as we continue our work on behalf of Hoosiers.
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