INDIANAPOLIS—On Wednesday, State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) announced his aggressive legislative agenda for the 2021 legislative session.

“This year, Hoosiers are dealing with an unprecedented number of issues,” Sen. Melton said.

“While a great deal of our residents’ struggles are directly tied to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the struggles Hoosiers are facing predate this virus. This pandemic has merely worsened the problems of many, while exposing to others the deep cracks in several of our state’s institutions.

“My 2021 legislative agenda is a direct response to the calls of residents who are looking for meaningful and fundamental change. We have a difficult session ahead, but I’m looking forward to working on behalf of all Hoosiers in my new role as Assistant Minority Leader for the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus.

Sen. Melton’s legislative agenda and focuses highlight four areas: justice reform, public health, pandemic relief and economic growth and development in Northwest Indiana.

Areas of Importance in 2021:

 Protect the health and safety of workers:

“There is an aggressive push by Republican legislators to protect businesses from potential COVID-19 lawsuits. This is a blow to essential workers who have risked their lives to keep our economy open, and I want to ensure that all workers are protected from employers that are negligent with their workers’ health and safety.”

Protect public education funding:

“Earlier this year public schools were threatened that they would only receive 85% of their state funding because they were forced to go virtual due to the pandemic. As the Ranking Minority Member on the Appropriations Committee, I will fight for full funding for our public schools and advocate for reforming our existing funding formula to reflect the growing need for our schools.”

Justice Reform:

“After the death of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, and even deaths at the hands of police in our own state, we heard loud and clear from citizens that they demand reform in our justice system. I will be filing legislation to ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants. The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus will file a series of bills to address our current system as it is today.”

Public Health Reform:

“Indiana has one of the worst public health rankings in the country and many Hoosiers continue to struggle with the rising cost of life saving medication like insulin. In 2009, a 30-day supply of insulin was around $93; in 2019, the average cost of a 30-day supply of insulin was $275. It’s astronomical and I will fight to cap the copay of insulin to make it more affordable for Hoosiers. It will also be a priority to end implicit bias that exists in our healthcare system for women and black women in particular. The news stories of deaths of African American women in our local healthcare systems shows how much work we have to do. That’s why I’m filing legislation to require implicit bias training among healthcare professionals.”

Pandemic Relief for individuals and small businesses:

“Individuals and small businesses everywhere have been impacted by the pandemic economically. My pandemic relief focus seeks to address several of the issues brought on and exacerbated by this virus, including livable wages and assistance for small businesses. We must acknowledge that many of our essential workers are paid low wages and that our neighbors and local businesses are struggling. This is why we must raise the minimum wage, offer renter protection and provide tax relief for small businesses.”

Provide support for our local municipalities:

“The new stimulus bill that congress passed provided no support for local cities and towns that have been on the front lines of addressing local crises caused by the pandemic. Through my property tax amnesty bill and other policy proposals, I will be working to provide my district with economic tools to address their fiscal shortfall due to COVID-19. In an effort to strengthen the Gary school corporation, I’ll be seeking a charter school moratorium within the city limits to allow the district to address its fiscal needs and promote growth in its student population.”