Indiana State Rep. Earl Harris Jr. announces 2021 legislative agenda

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Earl Harris Jr. (D-East Chicago) today announced his 2021 legislative agenda. Harris plans to continue his focus on reforming Indiana's law enforcement practices, expanding access to education, decriminalizing mental illness and improving economic development in Northwest Indiana.

Harris also serves as Vice Chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) and will be collaborating with other IBLC members to enact the Justice Reform Agenda announced last summer.

“After consulting with my fellow IBLC members, I have authored legislation that would require local and state law enforcement agencies to provide, maintain and use body and dashboard cameras,” said Harris.

“The Governor has implemented a body camera requirement for state troopers and several cities across the state have begun requiring their officers to wear body cameras. This bill would bring the state under one, cohesive requirement in order to protect all Hoosiers.

“Another important step to protecting all Hoosiers is to decriminalize mental illness. When a Hoosier is in the midst of a mental crisis, they need help, not handcuffs. I will support legislation that works to pair law enforcement officers with mental health professionals so that they can offer an effective response to mental health calls.

“In order to create real justice reform, we must also address issues within our education system, our economy and other areas of our daily lives. The financial burden of higher education has been exacerbated by the pandemic and has discouraged even more Hoosiers from furthering their education. I will once again be introducing two bills that will make continuing their education more affordable for Indiana students: one that puts a cap on tuition rates for a student's secondary education; and another that allows for undocumented students to receive in-state tuition rates. It is my hope that these bills will encourage more Hoosiers to pursue secondary education and build their futures.

“As this year is a budget session, one of my top priorities is improving the economic opportunities in our lakefront communities. To accomplish this, I have authored legislation that removes certain restrictions currently placed on lakefront development projects, including the stipulation that states a municipal lakefront development project must be funded in part with local, state and federal money. Removing these restrictions will allow for a greater expansion of development in lakefront communities and help our local economies bounce back from COVID-19.”

The 2021 Legislative Session began Jan. 4.

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