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Op-ed: Leising: 2021 legislative session update

2021 legislative session update

By State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg)

The Indiana General Assembly recently completed the first half of the 2021 legislative session.

The Indiana Senate introduced 411 bills, and of those, 168 were passed by the Senate.

Upon final passage in the Senate, 92% of bills received bipartisan support and 52% received unanimous support.

This session, I authored five bills to help improve agriculture, public health services and education across the state.

As a member of the farming community, I authored two bills to improve our state's agricultural industry. Senate Bill 53 would make changes to the requirements for testing and reporting of diseased animals. Senate Bill 227 would update enforcement of pesticide violations by adding a comprehensive list of violations the state chemist may impose. Both passed the Senate unanimously.

Earlier this year, it was brought to my attention that Indiana is one of the worst in the nation for maternal mortality outcomes. 86% of pregnancy-associated deaths occur postpartum and substance abuse disorder was the most common contributing factor to death. In response, I authored Senate Bill 10, which would expand information collected by the statewide maternal mortality review committee. SB 10 passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

With the strain COVID-19 has placed on medical professionals, some of the work that was previously performed by only physicians is being done by others in the health care field. Senate Bill 366, which I authored and the Senate passed with bipartisan support, would allow advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to issue prescriptions for home health services to a home health agency. SB 366 would also make changes to the requirements in agreements between a physician and their assistant.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development, I have learned that Indiana students who are seeking a post-secondary education are missing out on more than $70 million in federal funds by not completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In response, I authored Senate Bill 54, which would require students in their senior year, except students at certain nonpublic schools, to complete and submit the FAFSA. If one of the student's parents, or the student if they are an emancipated minor, signs a waiver that the student understands what the FAFSA is and declines to complete it the student, would be exempted from this requirement. The principal or guidance counselor of the student's high school may also waive the requirement due to extenuating circumstances.

I am a firm believer that college is not for everyone, however, many aren't aware that there are a number of resources that ease the financial burden of attending college. This legislation would ensure that more students apply for FAFSA, the largest aid option available, and can make a fully informed decision on higher education by knowing what kind of financial aid they may qualify for. SB 54 passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

If you have any questions regarding these or other bills we will be considering in the coming weeks, please contact me by email at or by phone at 800-382-9467.