Senate Republicans outline 2023 agenda including health, public safety and tax savings for business

Senate Republicans in Indiana are prioritizing health care issues through 2023 — from expanding access to trying to lower costs — along with fiscal concerns and longer-term goals for public safety.

Much of health work will depend on spending. The governor is requesting about $347 million in the next budget, primarily through local health departments, to strengthen the state’s public health system.

Mori. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) said a significant portion of the funding will be those local departments that will choose whether to accept the money and commit to more services.

“It’s not about enforcing anything on any county,” Charbonneau said. “This is an opportunity.”

Senate Republicans also want to help expand access to mental health care. Mori. Mike Crider (R-Greenfield) said his caucus plans to spend $30 million on behavioral health clinics.

“Until we gain the capacity to deliver services, especially in those crisis situations, we’re going to continue to have problems,” Creed said. “And we’re going to overwhelm our prisons and overwhelm our … emergency departments.” room because there is no other place to go for treatment.”

Also on the caucus agenda is renewed efforts to work with insurers and health care providers on medical bills and pharmacy benefits that could lower costs. Mori. Justin Busch (R-Fort Wayne) will spearhead the push for a non-compete clause that would ban doctors.

Beyond health care, the caucus wants to create a two-year commission that will take a “comprehensive” look at the state’s tax system, with an eye toward major changes that could include eliminating the income tax. It also wants to make a big push to pay for the teachers’ pension fund, which costs the state about $1 billion a year.

READ MORE: Indiana Senate GOP leader wants to eliminate state income tax within a decade

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In the near future, though, Sen. Scott Baldwin (R-Noblesville) will spearhead efforts to help small businesses save money. Currently, businesses that pay corporate income taxes in Indiana can deduct the full amount of these taxes from their federal taxes. But there is a cap on those who only pay personal income tax on their own business. Baldwin’s bill will ensure they’re fully deductible — at no cost to the state.

“Based on the numbers I’ve received from the business community, they’re going to save over $50 million a year in federal taxes,” Baldwin said.

Another priority will align with the governor’s: increasing Indiana police pay. Mori. Chris Garten (R-Charlestown) said low pay has been a recruiting challenge.

“ISP’s recent recruiting class is the fewest since 1946,” Garten said.

Raising all starting salaries for state troopers to $70,000 a year, as proposed by the governor, would cost about $36 million.

Potential changes to the Indiana constitution are also on the horizon. The constitution requires bail for criminal suspects unless they are charged with murder or treason and there is “a solid evidence, or a strong presumption.”

Mori. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, wants to change the clause to allow judges to deny bail for other offenses when the defendant poses a “substantial risk” to the public.

Read more: Indiana lawmakers will write their two-year budget this session.Here’s how the process works

and Mori. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) will try again to provide Hoosier consumers with data privacy. Her legislation, modeled on recent Virginia law, would create a sort of consumer rights bill.

“Like the right to review what data is collected about you, the right to correct information or even delete it,” Brown said.

To enforce those provisions, the bill would authorize the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations and penalties.

Reach reporter Brandon at, or follow him on Twitter: @brandonjsmith5.

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