INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) is calling on Governor Eric Holcomb to take decisive action in the face of the current COVID-19 outbreak. Sen. Niezgodski issued the following statement regarding the state’s response to the health crisis:
“Hoosiers cannot afford any hesitation from their elected officials in a time like this,” Sen. Niezgodski said. “It’s time for the state to take the lead in all virus response efforts. I am calling on the governor to use the full weight and authority of his office to ensure our people are protected during this outbreak.”
Sen. Niezgodski identified eight key areas where the governor can immediately take action to help keep Hoosiers safe during the outbreak:
- Veto SB 148 (Landlord-Tenant Bill), Halt Evictions and Call on Banks to Suspend Mortgage Payments – By reducing financial burdens, workers will have greater confidence that they are able to stay home from work during the outbreak to reduce spread of the virus. As more workers are asked to stay home and participate in social distancing, it is imperative that these Hoosiers not be afraid of being forced out of their homes onto the streets.
- Lift Sales Tax on Medicines – The State of Indiana already exempts prescription drugs from sales tax. By extending the tax exemption to cover over-the-counter drugs, we can help keep people, especially seniors, healthy during this potential disruption in income. A suspension on this sales tax will reduce the price of the drugs that directly combat the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Issue Moratorium on Utility Disconnect – Numerous Indiana utilities have announced they would not disconnect utilities during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak, by making a formal announcement, the governor can ensure Hoosiers and their families are safe while they stay at home.
- Order Remaining Schools to Close – 273 public school districts in Indiana are already closed but by formally ordering all schools closed, we can ensure kids, teachers and staff are kept safe. The governor mentioned the economic impact of forcing all schools to close, but there would be an even larger economic and health impact if we allow the transmission of this disease in our schools. There could be an impact in terms of Hoosiers’ lives.
- Ensure Access to Food – By reaching out to food pantries to inform them of available state resources and requiring all school districts to distribute free meals, we can be sure no children or families are left to go hungry during the outbreak.
- Provide Clarity on Testing – Hoosiers need to know when and where they can get tested for COVID-19 if they experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus. There must be more transparency in relation to the number of tests to be made available, the locations of any mobile testing stations, the price of testing and how they can be accessed moving forward.
- Call Upon National Guard – We will need as many hands on deck as possible, and Hoosiers must be confident that our National Guard can be activated at a moment’s notice to assist in our outbreak response. By utilizing the National Guard we can ensure the organization of necessary quarantines, the proper access to nutritious food and the distribution of essential medical supplies such as ventilators.
- Ensure Small Business Support – Small businesses may be hit hard by quarantine and travel restrictions. We must be sure that Indiana will take the necessary steps to make available low-interest loans issued the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These SBA loans can help keep our Hoosier businesses afloat.
“By taking these measures, we can address the issues which will affect the lives of everyday Hoosiers the most,” Sen. Niezgodski said. “The people of Indiana are facing difficult times right now, but I have faith that if we stick together and take the necessary precautions, we will pull through this.”
Sen. Niezgodski’s letter can be found here.