General Assembly Reconvenes for 2021 Session
This week, the Indiana General Assembly reconvened for the 2021 legislative session.
This session, my colleagues and I will craft a comprehensive budget to fund government services for the next two years. Thanks to years of responsible conservative fiscal management, our reserves have allowed Indiana to be in a much better financial position than we otherwise could have been. While the outlook is positive, we must be cautiously optimistic and continue our commitment to strong fiscal discipline by passing a balanced budget.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, my colleagues and I will also work on a variety of policies this session to help address the impact the virus has had on our economy and on our local communities.
Additionally, this session we will draw new congressional and state legislative district boundaries. Redistricting is a duty assigned to the legislature by the Indiana Constitution that takes place after each census, and I am committed to ensuring a fair and transparent redistricting process.
With the 2021 session underway, I encourage residents of Senate District 5 to contact me with any questions or comments by email at Senator.Charbonneau@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.
During the 2020 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly took key steps toward improving health care services for Hoosiers, and this session I will introduce legislation to further address important health care-related topics impacting our state.
This week, I filed Senate Bill 3, which would address a variety of telehealth matters, including expanding the application of the statute to additional practitioners beyond prescribing physicians and maintaining all standard of care requirements for practitioners as if they were treating the patient in an in-person setting.
Hoosiers greatly benefited from the additional access to their licensed practitioners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and SB 3 would allow this improved access to continue post-pandemic.
COVID-19 liability protection
During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers and hospitals have gone above and beyond their normal actions to treat the sick and keep people safe. Without appropriate liability protection, their heroism could lead to opportunistic or frivolous lawsuits.
Therefore, this session I will introduce Senate Bill 4, which would expand civil immunity to more types of health care workers, such as volunteers and administrative staff, as well additional health care-related activities, such as transportation and administrative activities.
SB 4 takes the lessons we've learned from COVID-19 and applies them to future situations Indiana might face.
COVID-19 Vaccine Available
Indiana has been hard at work distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to our frontline health care workers, first responders, long-term care residents and long-term care workers.
Beginning today, Friday, Jan. 8, Hoosiers who are 80 years of age or older may make an appointment to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Those 80 years of age or older, or their representative, may call 2-1-1 or visit ourshot.in.gov to make an appointment. The Indiana 211 call center will be available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, including weekends. Hoosiers in this age range will also receive a notification in the mail that they are eligible to receive the vaccine.
There is at least one vaccination location in each of Indiana's 92 counties. Appointments for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first dose is administered.
Based on clinical trials, the vaccine is at least 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 for all adults, and very few side effects have been reported.
The next group of Hoosiers eligible to receive the vaccine will be Hoosiers 70 years of age and older, followed by those 60 years of age and older. Those three age groups combined account for approximately 93% of all COVID-19 deaths in Indiana. Progressing with the vaccinations in this order will help save the most lives while reducing hospitalizations.
As of today, there is no definite timeline of when each wave will begin, since the state receives vaccine doses on a weekly basis. Revisit the ourshot.in.gov website frequently for updates. More information, including frequently asked questions and safety information, can be found here.
It is important all Hoosiers take advantage of this safe, free vaccine when they become eligible. We all want to get through the coronavirus pandemic and put it behind us, and the COVID-19 vaccine will help us get there.
Indiana's Economy Continues to Recover
Since the national economic fallout last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana has been steadily recovering at a rate far outpacing most other states.
Indiana's economy roared back in the third quarter of 2020, growing at the fourth-fastest rate in the nation. Our economic output grew at 43.3% annually, far surpassing the national growth of 33.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
While we know many of Indiana's small businesses are still struggling, this improvement is a testament to the strength of the entrepreneurs and workers that reside in our state.