Chesterton Tribune


Tallian bills: Kindergarten funding, workers comp., marijuana reform

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State Senator Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, introduced a number of bills to be considered by the 2013 General Assembly last week, three of which update Indiana’s policies on funding for full-day kindergarten, worker’s compensation benefits and the decriminalization of marijuana.

Senate Bill (SB) 469, which would make full-day kindergarten enrollment mandatory no later than the fall term of the school year in which the student becomes five years of age. Sen. Tallian says it is time to require and fund full-day kindergarten in a long-term and sustainable way.

“Legislators have made early childhood education a priority for several years,” said Tallian. “But until now, legislators have skirted funding full-day kindergarten. So it’s about time we take that step.”

The state currently provides funding for half-day programs and does not require students to attend kindergarten. SB 469 will require students to attend full-day kindergarten prior to entering first grade and allow pupils to be counted as full-time students for funding purposes.

Tallian has also filed a bill to increase insurance benefits for employees who are injured on the job. SB 470 would increase the weekly amount of worker’s compensation benefits accrued by an injured person from $975 to $1,170.

“The legislature raises the benefit level periodically, but this has not been done for years,” explained Tallian who has filed a version of the bill every year since 2006. “Indiana now provides some of the lowest compensation benefits nationally.”

SB 580 would lessen the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana in Indiana. Following extensive testimony and review during a 2011 study committee, the proposal's goal is to reduce criminal penalties for personal possession of small amounts of marijuana. The impact could also mean less state and local criminal justice resources spent on marijuana-related arrests, prosecution and sentences.

“We lock up our children. We give them criminal records. We waste valuable court time and a lot of state money to maintain this prohibition, “ said Tallian. “As we all know, prohibition does not work.”

The bill would make possession of less than two ounces of marijuana a Class C infraction, decriminalizing the possession. If a person possesses more than two ounces or has two or more prior marijuana convictions in the past five years, the person may be charged criminally, although, the penalties are reduced from the current criminal statute. The bill also specifies penalties for driving while under the influence of marijuana and authorizes the licensed cultivation and production of industrial hemp.

“Whether we’re talking full-day kindergarten, worker’s comp, or marijuana policy- it’s about time for the legislature to seriously consider these proposals,” Tallian said.



Posted 1/14/2013