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3/4 Torchbearer Weekly Policy Update

Thank you for bearing with us as we navigate the last few days of the legislative session in Indiana. We will be back in force after Sine Die! Thank you letting us be your trusted source for local, state, and federal policy updates.

  • Child Well-Being Ticks Up in Latest KIDS COUNT Data Book
  • The Feds Sent Letters to Indiana Among Other States to Fix SNAP Application Errors and Inefficiencies
  • Unemployment Claims in Indiana Declined Last Week
  • Young, National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology Hold Indiana Events
  • Regions Submit Proposals for READI 2.0
  • Indiana Election Commission, State High Court Rule Against John Rust, Removing Him from Ballot
  • Senate Passes Spending Bill, Punting Shutdown Threat to Next Week
  • 2024 Bill Watch
  • Share the Torchbearer Newsletter with Your Network!
  • Important Dates

Let’s dive in.

Child Well-Being Ticks Up in Latest KIDS COUNT Data Book


Hoosier children are doing a bit better than they were last year, rising from 28th to 24th in the national ranking of child well-being.

Why it matters: The improvement in Indiana's child well-being is important because it reflects positive changes in areas such as poverty, employment, and health insurance coverage.

By the numbers: Compared to the country, Indiana has fewer children living in poverty, fewer parents lacking secure employment, and a lower percentage of children without health insurance (6%). Additionally, the high school graduation rate for the Class of 2023 is 88.9%, the highest since 2016.

The big picture: The data on child well-being provides insights into the state's overall performance in areas such as education, economic well-being, health, and family & community.

Yes, but: Indiana's health rankings are affected by a provider shortage, particularly in mental health services, and a significant number of high school youth experiencing feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

What's next: The report highlights the need for continued investment in areas that contribute to positive outcomes for children, such as education, healthcare, and support services. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The Feds Sent Letters to Indiana Among Other States to Fix SNAP Application Errors and Inefficiencies


The majority of states are not processing food assistance applications on time and making too many payment errors, according to the federal government.

Why it matters: The delay in processing applications and payment errors are causing significant hardships for individuals and families who rely on food assistance.

The big picture: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is urging states to improve their application processing timeliness rate and payment error rate to ensure that those in need receive timely and accurate benefits.

What's next: States are encouraged to work with the federal government to improve their food assistance programs and receive technical assistance and resources. (WFYI)

Unemployment Claims in Indiana Declined Last Week


New jobless claims in Indiana dropped last week compared with the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why it matters: The decrease in unemployment claims indicates potential improvement in the job market.

By the numbers: Initial filings for unemployment benefits in Indiana fell to 2,860, down from 3,221 the previous week.

The big picture: This decrease in claims suggests a positive trend in the state's economy.

Yes, but: Oklahoma experienced a significant increase in weekly claims, while Kentucky saw a substantial decrease.

What's next: It will be important to monitor future unemployment claim data to assess the overall economic recovery. (Courier Press)

Young, National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology Hold Indiana Events


U.S. Senator Todd Young and the National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology (NSCEB) conducted fact-finding meetings in Indiana.

Why it matters: The NSCEB will shape U.S. Government activities and provide recommendations on the national security implications of biotechnology.

The big picture: Emerging biotechnology research in Indiana can help shape America's future in AgTech and national security.

What's next: The commission heard directly from leaders in academia, industry, and agriculture in Indiana. (Newsroom)

Regions Submit Proposals for READI 2.0


Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced that 15 regions in the state have submitted proposals for the second round of the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI 2.0), which is expected to generate $3 billion in local investment for quality of life, economic development, and workforce projects. The funding will be allocated alongside $250 million awarded by Lilly Endowment Inc., focusing on arts, culture, and blighted properties. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. will evaluate the proposals and make funding recommendations in April.

Why it matters: The READI 2.0 program aims to grow Indiana's population, develop sustainable communities, and improve the lives of Hoosiers. The program's focus on enhancing quality of place and quality of opportunity will attract and retain talent, boost economic development, and support workforce initiatives. This initiative showcases Indiana's commitment to investing in its future and promoting a high quality of life for its residents.

The big picture: The READI 2.0 program builds on the success of its predecessor, READI 1.0, which has already yielded $12.6 billion in additional investment since its launch in December 2021. This new round of funding will further advance Indiana's economic growth and development, creating opportunities for improved infrastructure, education, and community development.

What's next: The Indiana Economic Development Corp. will make funding recommendations to the board of directors on April 11. Once funding is allocated, the agency will work with each region to identify projects for investment, contributing to the state's long-term prosperity. (Inside Indiana Business)

Indiana Election Commission, State High Court Rule Against John Rust, Removing Him from Ballot


The Indiana Election Commission decided to keep former president Donald Trump on the GOP primary ballot for May 2024, while U.S. Senate hopeful John Rust will be kept off the ballot. Rust's two most recent primary votes were Republican in 2016 and Democrat in 2012, which goes against Indiana law.

Why it matters: This decision is important for the targeted audience of Indiana voters and political enthusiasts as it impacts the choices available to them in the upcoming primary election, potentially influencing the future of the Republican Party in the state.

The big picture: The Indiana Election Commission upheld the two-primary requirement, stating that Rust could have followed the rules by voting in GOP primaries since 2016 or moving to a county with a more favorable party chair. Rust plans to appeal the decision to the Marion County Superior Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

What's next: With Rust out of the race, Congressman Jim Banks will be the sole GOP candidate on the primary ballot, while Trump and Biden remain on the Indiana ballot. (IBJ)

Senate Passes Spending Bill, Punting Shutdown Threat to Next Week


The Senate on Thursday passed a short-term spending bill that delays the shutdown threat to later in the month and provides funding for several government departments through March 8.

Why it matters: The passage of the bill allows Congress more time to negotiate full-year funding and avoid a government shutdown. This is important for all Americans who rely on government services and for the stability of the economy.

The big picture: The stopgap bill is the fourth temporary measure passed for fiscal year 2024. Lawmakers will have until March 22 to finalize funding for key departments and agencies for the rest of the year.

What's next: The House will release bill text for the first package of six bills over the weekend, signaling progress in negotiations for full-year funding. (The Hill)

2024 Bill Watch


As the 2024 Legislative Session draws to a close, keep track of the bills that make it to Governor Holcomb’s desk.

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Important Dates:

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Monday, March 4th - House 3rd Reading Deadline

Monday, March 4th - Senate 2nd Reading Deadline

Tuesday, March 5th - Senate 3rd Reading Deadline

Friday, March 8th - Anticipated Sine Die

Thursday, March 14 - Last Day to Adjourn Sine Die

Senate Session Calendar

House Session Calendar