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Legislative Session Mixed for Indiana Working Families

This summer, a study will get under way on the potential effects of a paid family leave policy for Indiana. (Kimberlyn Thresher)
This summer, a study will get under way on the potential effects of a paid family leave policy for Indiana. (Kimberlyn Thresher)
April 26, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS - Advocates for Indiana's working families say this legislative year was both good and bad.

Lawmakers approved a plan to expand a pre-kindergarten program and raised the asset limit for people receiving SNAP benefits. Gov. Eric Holcomb also announced Tuesday that, although he's signing the so-called "ban the box" law, he'll issue an executive order exempting state jobs. The controversial measure says the state and cities can't prevent employers from asking job-seekers about their criminal history on applications.

Erin Macey, policy analyst at the Indiana Institute for Working Families, said people who are released from jail or prison deserve a chance to get an interview.

"So, at least on that initial application, you would have the opportunity to present yourself," Macey said. "And then it might come up during the interview, but at least you can kind of get past that first hurdle of getting a job."

Macey said there are more than 1 million Hoosiers with criminal records, or more than 17 percent of the state's population.

In terms of other legislation approved this session, Macey applauded state lawmakers for agreeing to study paid family leave and the impact it would have on Indiana families.

"The ball is rolling," she said. "I think there's some resistance to doing anything beyond a voluntary plan that employers could opt into, but at least the conversation is started."

The study will begin this summer. Macey said there also were some missed opportunities to help working families this year - including legislation raising the minimum wage, establishing a child-care tax credit, giving workers the chance to earn paid sick days, and closing the salary gap between men and women.

More information is online at ilwf.blogspot.com, as well as bill texts for SB 312 and SB 253.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN