JASPER COUNTY — With many new laws effective this month, state Reps. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) and Sharon Negele (R-Attica) said several important changes support Hoosier teachers, farmers, assault survivors and patients.

"State lawmakers took a hard look at issues important to Hoosiers and worked diligently during the 2020 legislative session to pass bills to meet constituents' needs," Lehe said. "New laws took effect this month to support teachers and schools, do more for farmers who provide for our communities and assist patients."

Here's a look at notable new laws Hoosiers should know about:

Teachers, Students and Schools

Lehe said as part of House Enrolled Act 1002, standardized test scores will no longer be required to be a part of teacher performance evaluations. He said this should reduce the pressure educators often feel to teach to the test and, as a result, make teaching more attractive as a career.

To help cut red tape, House Enrolled Act 1003 went into effect earlier this year to allow the State Board of Education to streamline the timing and frequency of required teacher trainings and grant waivers for schools to bypass over 1,500 regulations.

As Indiana continues to transition to the new ILEARN exam, lawmakers passed Senate Enrolled Act 2 so that school accountability grades cannot be negatively impacted by student scores for two years.

Lehe said House Enrolled Act 1283 supports students with mental health issues, including those involved in bullying, and experiencing behavioral problems or physical illnesses. The new law ensures aspiring educators receive training on best practices to recognize students' behavioral reactions to trauma so they can address these issues in their classrooms with increased understanding and insight.

Farmers and Rural Communities

Senate Enrolled Act 184 allows the Indiana Farm Bureau to offer a health benefits plan to its members.

Negele said this plan is not health insurance, but would provide similar benefits to help many farmers who have limited access to affordable health care options.

Other states, such as Kansas and Tennessee, have implemented similar programs through their Farm Bureaus.

To support rural communities, House Enrolled Act 1370 allows cities and towns to band together and enter into regional land banks to acquire tax-delinquent and blighted properties to restore them.

Assault Survivors

Negele sponsored Senate Enrolled Act 146 providing sexual assault survivors with certain rights and connecting them with professional advocates who can advise, comfort and support them throughout the legal process at no cost.

She said 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience sexual violence throughout their lifetimes, and steps needed to be taken to help them as they seek justice.

"Nobody should ever be sexually assaulted, let alone have to deal with it by themselves," Negele said. "Survivors of sexual assault deserve critical help to address the horrific event they went through, and this new law connects them with professionals who can provide support."

Patients

Under House Enrolled Act 1004, patients will be protected from receiving surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers, and, in the case of an elective procedure, the patient will have the right to receive an upfront, good-faith estimate of expected charges.

In addition, Senate Enrolled Act 5 requires hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and urgent care clinics to publish their average prices online, and Negele said a new HIPAA-compliant database of all health insurance claims will empower consumers by providing information about cost and quality.

For more information on these and other new laws effective this month, visit iga.in.gov.