It is easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the Indiana Statehouse. We spend countless hours debating policies with a wide range of passionate opinions and voices. But the most important thing the General Assembly can accomplish is making sure we protect all of our Hoosier families.

Working families are the backbone of our state. Family is where we get our values and where we learn kindness and the value of hard work. As legislators, it is our job to do everything in our power to lift up Hoosier families. That’s why I have spent so much of my time in the General Assembly reaching across the aisle and working on issues that help working families.

Just this session I authored several bills to help Indiana families on topics ranging from fortifying subsidies for adoptive families to protecting the rights of parents with disabilities and expanding health care coverage to children with PANDAS and PANS, two debilitating pediatric diseases which can only be reversed if treated quickly. Overall, seven of the bills I authored and co-authored passed the full Senate with wide bipartisan support.

Two of my most impactful bills that the House of Representatives is considering are Senate Bill (SB) 311, which expands health care coverage for PANDAS and PANS, and SB 312, which protects the rights of parents with disabilities.

Any parent with a child who has PANDAS or PANS can tell you how devastating it is. These two diseases cause sudden behavior changes, resulting in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Tourette-like symptoms in children who have it. PANDAS and PANS is caused by certain bacterial infections and are often misdiagnosed because of their strange symptoms. If treatment is enacted soon enough, the effects can be reversed. The problem is, most health insurance plans do not cover treatment for PANS and PANDAS, leaving parents to either watch their children suffer at the plight of this horrible disease, or go into bankruptcy and risk losing their homes and life savings to pay for the medical bills. No parent should ever have to choose between their children’s health and their monthly bills. Once SB 311 is signed into law, all health plans in the state of Indiana will cover treatments for PANDAS and PANS, providing much needed relief for countless families across the state.

My other bill SB 312 aims to help parents dealing with another unthinkable situation – losing their children simply because they have a disability. Thousands of parents with disabilities in our state are at risk of losing their parental rights because Indiana’s laws currently do not provide protections for these individuals. My proposal SB 312 will change this, cementing a Hoosier’s right to be parents and our state’s firm dedication to strengthening our families.

Unfortunately, my adoption subsidies bill SB 310 was not given a hearing in committee this year. This bill would have ensured that families did not lose their subsidies when they adopt a foster child. Parents who adopt foster children make all the difference in a child’s life. By providing a safe, loving home, these parents give children the chance to learn and grow into productive members of society, which leaves the world a better place for all of us. Welcoming a child into one’s home takes significant financial resources, and SB 310 would have helped ease that burden and encourage more adoptions. While this bill itself is dead, there are still opportunities left this session to amend the proposal into a House bill. I am hopeful that my colleagues will think of our state’s adoptive families as we enter the second half of this legislative session.

I’ve been so honored to serve my constituents for these past four years in the Indiana Senate. I know you didn’t send me here to engage in partisan bickering, to grab headlines or score points. You sent me here to fight for Hoosier families, and that’s what I’ve been doing, year after year. I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together, advancing legislation to strengthen families and finding common ground on the issues that matter most. It doesn’t matter what party you subscribe to; we all just want the best for our families.