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Indiana Black Legislative Caucus announces 2022 legislative priorities

The 14 bills include remedies to increasing child care costs and student debt, more access to paid medical/sick leave, and addressing child poverty.

INDIANAPOLIS — Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus announced their 2022 legislative priorities Tuesday under the theme of economic opportunities.

"It's been many years that African Americans and Blacks have been put in this system where either we haven't been able to purchase homes, go to college or haven't been able to get funding for our own businesses," said Rep. Robin Shackleford, IBLC chairwoman. "So this year in particular, we had so much federal funding come down from the Biden administration to help out with a lot of these issues because of the pandemic ... we want to make sure that federal funding is being utilized to uplift our community."

The 14 bills include remedies to increasing child care costs and student debt, more access to paid medical/sick leave, and addressing child poverty through a child tax credit. Several proposals cover education.

Senator Jean Breaux introduced a bill that would offer scholarship money for minority students pursuing careers in health care.

Representative Earl Harris' proposal would freeze tuition, except for a cost of living adjustment, for students from the time they enroll in college through graduation.

"We are optimistic," said Shackelford, regarding the future of the bills lawmakers mentioned during the news conference.

"This session has taken off very fast," she said. "I think some people are realizing how short it actually is, but right now we're just all hands on deck, reading bills as fast as we can because everything is moving pretty quickly."

Other topics lawmakers plan to introduce include improvements to public transportation and funding to address the root causes of addiction, homelessness, mental illness and economic insecurity.

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