Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

January 21, 2014

Families come first

The 2014 legislative session is now in full swing.

With our second week complete and the bill filing deadline now past, our schedules are filled with committee meetings, session, informational panels and other legislative activities.

As the vice chair of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, some of my main priorities are helping the chair review legislation for committee hearings and ensure those proceedings are conducted fairly and thoroughly.

So far, almost a dozen bills have been assigned to this committee covering a wide variety of topics ranging from child care regulations to adoption practices to welfare benefit reform. Committee hearings are open to the public and can also be viewed online. If you are interested in watching a committee meeting, visit our website at http://iga.in.gov and click on the camera icon next to the committee you would like to view.

In addition to keeping you updated on the bills in the committees I serve on, I will do my best to keep you up-to-date on other major legislation. One of our caucus’ agenda bills this session is House Bill (HB) 1004, which passed out of the House this week with bipartisan support. This legislation creates a pilot program for children from low-income households to attend high quality preschools. Giving these children a better start to their schooling is crucial for the development and increases the likelihood for graduation.

Indiana is currently the only state in the Midwest that does not offer state-funded preschool programs, which I think holds our kids back. According IU Health, clear links exist between early childhood education and kids’ future health. Studies have also shown that investment in children during the early years of their development can save society in the future, with returns as high as $16 for every $1 invested. So not only does this program have the potential to nurture a healthier generation, it could also ensure a more prosperous economic future for our state.

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