– President Trump last week declared opioid addiction as a public health emergency. This is different terminology than a national emergency, which would allow for federal funding towards the epidemic. The Indiana Chamber is engaged in helping fight this scourge at the state and federal levels and will keep membership engaged on this issue. Governor Eric Holcomb responded, “I applaud the President’s decision to declare a public health emergency to address drug and opioid addiction. It will take an all-hands-on-deck approach with local, state and federal partners working together to attack this epidemic. Today, our state is engaging every resource at our disposal and using a three-pronged approach to tackle this problem with prevention, treatment and enforcement. This latest commitment from the President builds on our strong partnerships with groups like The Pew Charitable Trusts and Indiana University to multiply the impact of our efforts and save more Hoosier lives.”

– Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05) recently joined Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) in co-hosting the first 5G Caucus briefing with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Brooks and Dingell founded and are the co-chairs of the caucus, which seeks to educate other members of Congress on these newest technological advances of wireless connectivity that affect 20 billion Internet of Things connected devices, the role it plays in jobs and the economy, as well as how Congress can deregulate to allow for further innovation.

– Representative Luke Messer (IN-06) has introduced legislation with Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) to help combat student loan debt. H.R. 4119, the Student Loan Disclosure Modernization Act, seeks to make student loan disclosure forms simpler and easier to understand, in the hopes to reduce the number of students borrowing more than what they actually need to complete school.

“This is a simple bill to make sure college students have full information about the loans they’re getting to finance their education,” Rep. Messer stated. “Too often, students don’t understand the terms of their loans and don’t have a clear picture of how these loans will be paid back. Our goal with this is to empower students with information so they can make the best decisions about their education, finances and future.”

The Indiana Chamber supported a similar measure at the state level a few years ago, stating that financial transparency for students was in their best interests long term.

– Senator Todd Young and Rep. Jackie Walorski brought forth the Coordinating Assistance for TANF Recipients Act this week, which aims to improve coordination of case work for those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Individuals that apply for TANF also often receive other types of benefits and services from other programs and agencies. Individuals may also have to meet with multiple caseworkers and different offices to fulfill the requirements for benefits. This legislation would seek to improve coordination and streamline services so that recipients can find jobs and become more self-sufficient.

“Beneficiaries of TANF assistance are currently forced to spend too much time and energy navigating a maze of government bureaucracy,” said Young. This legislation sets aside $300 million for states to pilot and test different methods of coordination with results to be studied and evaluated.  “Our safety net is essential to helping people who fall on hard times get back on their feet, but too often it becomes a web that traps people in a cycle of poverty,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Human interaction is what breaks that cycle, and by letting states test innovative solutions tailored to local needs, we can empower individuals to move back to work and achieve the American Dream.”

– On Thursday, Congressmen Jim Banks (IN-03) and Scott Peters (D-CA) hosted a bipartisan roundtable with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin, other members of the VA leadership team and representatives from medical device manufacturers to discuss the high amount of late payments for medical devices procured by the VA. Several Hoosier medical device manufacturers, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (TN-01) took part in the discussion.

“If the VA continues to lag in reimbursing these companies, it runs the risk of depriving veterans of access to these critical technologies and undermines the mission of the department,” Banks said. “(This) roundtable was a good step in bringing together medical device companies and Secretary Shulkin to talk about why the VA has been late, in some cases even two years late, in paying medical device manufacturers. I look forward to working with Secretary Shulkin and the Hoosier medical device industry to address this issue and ensure the needs of our veterans are being met.”

– Senators Young and Joe Donnelly threw their support behind Amy Coney Barrett for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The confirmation vote for the law professor from the University of Notre Dame took place this week over opposition from some Democrats, who previously had questioned issues related to her Catholic faith during her confirmation hearings last month. Donnelly was one of only three Democrats who supported her confirmation, along with Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. Barrett was approved 55-43 on Tuesday.

– The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voice voted on Wednesday to make the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore the country’s 60th national park. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration. This legislation would put the national park designation on 15,000 acres along the southern tip of Lake Michigan. The area was first suggested as a national park in 1916 because of its biological diversity and geological features. A section became a state park in 1925 and the national lakeshore was established in 1966.

Resource: Caryl Auslander at (317) 264-6880 or email: [email protected]