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Johnson County lawmakers: Free online learning tools available to Hoosier students, parents

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 15, 2020) – With Indiana school buildings closed for the academic year, there are several online resources available to help students continue learning at home, according to Johnson County lawmakers.  

To slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Eric Holcomb recently issued an executive order requiring all K-12 schools to provide instruction through remote learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

According to State Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland), a member of the House Education Committee, schools are working with the Indiana Department of Education to create continuous learning plans to ensure education is still happening and students keep up with their school work. He said many schools have already implemented remote or e-learning programs.

“This virus has turned our worlds upside down, but it has brought many families closer,” Burton said. “While there are challenges to the whole family working and learning from home, I am encouraged to see parents and children spending time together and creating memories during these difficult times.”

Parents can visit doe.in.gov/covid-19, and click on “Remote Learning Resources” to access educational tools, including free online classes for all grade levels covering multiple subjects. State Rep. Chris May (R-Bedford) said there’s also a parent toolkit with information on how to help students finish the school year strong, along with STEM activities, educational games, virtual tours of museums and zoos, and more.

“Remote learning is a new reality for many Hoosier children and parents,” May said. “It doesn’t replace the valuable classroom experience, but there are many online resources available to help students continue their education.”

Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations recently teamed up with the DOE to offer television programming and online resources aligned with Indiana’s curriculum standards for K-12 students. Parents can find their local TV program schedule through the DOE’s COVID-19 website or by visiting their local IPBS station website. Students and parents can also visit PBSLearningMedia.org to find grab-and-go activities, lesson plans, interactive lessons and other materials.

State Rep. Dollyne Sherman (R-Indianapolis) said the state will continue looking for ways to help schools during the public health emergency and continue to be flexible during this unique time. For high school seniors on track to graduate, the DOE is working to ensure the students receive their diplomas.

“This is an especially difficult time for high school seniors who are missing out on big milestones like graduation,” Sherman said. “I’m hopeful we will be able to celebrate all their accomplishments this summer when we have made it through this storm.”

According to State Rep. John Young, (R-Franklin), most schools are providing food to students in need, with many offering meals at pickup locations. Each district has a different policy, so parents should check their school district’s website for specific information. For households with limited or no internet connectivity, he said the DOE’s COVID-19 website also offers information on how to get low-cost or even free broadband service. Hoosiers can also contact their service provider directly.

“While school buildings are closed, learning and other essential services are still being provided to students,” Young said. “Our schools are continuing to communicate with families, and making sure students have access to support at home.”

Parents and guardians in need of child care during this time can visit childcarefinder.in.gov to find options near their home or on the way to work. However, children displaying any signs of sickness should remain home until they are better. 

For more information about remote learning, visit doe.in.gov/covid-19, or email IDOECOVID-19@doe.in.gov with questions.

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Johnson County lawmakers highlight resources for Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Monday, April 6th, 2020

TATEHOUSE (April 1, 2020) – Johnson County lawmakers encourage Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources for help.

Under Indiana’s temporary “stay-at-home” order, many businesses deemed not essential have laid off staff or cannot pay employees while they are shut down. To help, Gov. Eric Holcomb expanded unemployment coverage to those impacted, including Hoosiers whose work hours were reduced, those under medical quarantine and employees who cannot continue to work because of lack of child care options.

“While we are taking steps to slow the spread of this virus, life does not stop and continues to move forward,” said State Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland). “Hoosier workers and business owners are getting some relief now to bridge financial gaps they may be facing. I continue to pray for our community and state as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Hoosiers should file for unemployment insurance if their employment has been interrupted or ended due to COVID-19, and their claim will be evaluated. Individuals must apply for UI benefits online, using a computer or smart phone at Unemployment.IN.gov. For questions, the state asks Hoosiers to review the Frequently Asked Questions, the Claimant Handbook or the online video tutorials before calling the 1-800-891-6499 helpline, which continues to experience a high volume of calls.   

“Hoosiers are understandably anxious about the major disruptions this pandemic has caused to our health and financial security,” said State Rep. Chris May (R-Bedford). “Expanding benefits at this time is essential to ensuring we have what we need to face the uncertainty.”

Indiana waived the one-week waiting period for payment of unemployment benefits, and it is retroactive to March 8, 2020. Qualified claimants can typically receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, but this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks.

State Rep. Dollyne Sherman (R-Indianapolis) said thanks to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.

“The hardships our state and nation are currently facing are tough, but temporary,” Sherman said. “This help for Hoosier workers and employers from Indiana and the federal government is important to keep our economy afloat and prepare businesses to return to normal operation when the time comes.”

State Rep. John Young (R-Franklin) said small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits can receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration‘s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75% and 2.75%, respectively, with terms up to 30 years.

“If you need assistance, help is available now,” Young said. “We are fortunate our state is in a financial position to provide critical support to Hoosiers to help navigate this public health emergency. Our communities are tough, and they will persevere during these difficult times.” 

He said businesses’ merit rate/tax rate will not be impacted if they lay off employees due to the coronavirus.

For more information and to apply for a small business loan, visit SBA.gov/disaster. Hoosiers can also contact 1-800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov with additional questions.

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House honors Burton for 32 years of service in General Assembly

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Members of the Indiana House of Representatives at the Statehouse Monday honored State Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) for his 32 years of serving House District 58.

“Serving our community and the state of Indiana has been a great honor,” Burton said. “For me, it has always been about the people in Johnson County. Their voice has been the driving force behind every decision and vote I have made, and it has been a privilege representing them at the Statehouse.”

Burton will finish out his term through the Nov. 3 election.

During his time in the House, Burton’s passion for helping others – especially children – led him to champion legislation supporting students with dyslexia, establishing bullying prevention programs in schools and increasing accountability in the child welfare system.

“Woody has been a tremendous friend over the years,” said State Rep. John Young (R-Franklin). “His drive for making Johnson County and Indiana the best place to live and work is admirable, and his voice at the Statehouse will be sorely missed.”

Thanks to Burton’s efforts, Hoosiers now have the option to choose the “In God We Trust” state license plate at no extra cost. He was also instrumental in passing numerous laws supporting property tax relief, creating transparency within homeowners associations and providing a 13th check for public employee pensions.

“Representative Burton has been a true public servant who always put his constituents first, and is tremendously active in his local community,” said House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis). “I appreciate Woody’s strong faith and passion for helping our state’s most vulnerable, especially those in the child welfare system. While his leadership will be missed at the Statehouse, I know he will continue helping his neighbors in Johnson County.”

Burton serves as the chair of the House Financial Institutions Committee and is a member of the House Education Committee and House Judiciary Committee.

He and his wife, Volly, reside in Whiteland, and have three children and six grandchildren.

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State Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) (left) joins House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) (right) at the rostrum in the House Chamber on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, at the Statehouse. It is tradition for legislators retiring from the Indiana House of Representatives to help lead floor proceedings during session. Burton is retiring in November after 32 years of serving in the General Assembly.

Legislative session off to a fast start

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

The 2020 legislative session kicked off this month, and we are hitting the ground running. This year is a short session, so lawmakers must conclude our business by mid-march. Already, several bills are moving through the legislative process, including two proposals supporting students, teachers and schools.

During the first week, I voted for legislation that would limit any potential negative impact of student scores on educators and schools during the transition to a new statewide test. We also considered a proposal that would empower local schools to determine how student exams are used when evaluating teachers. Both of these bills are now being considered by the full House of Representatives. These are timely issues as schools recently transitioned from ISTEP to ILEARN, and I know conversations surrounding student assessments and teacher evaluations will continue throughout session.

I am also working on several other proposals, including one that would provide students access to affordable dental care, and another that would build on a law I authored last year ensuring property owners are not left on the hook for renters’ unpaid utility bills. Visit iga.in.gov to learn about all the bills being considered for potential news laws and to follow the legislative process. 

This year is bittersweet because this will be my last legislative session serving as state representative for our community.

I recently announced I will retire in November after fulfilling my current term. Serving our community over the last 31 years is one of the greatest privileges of my life. My top priority has always been and continues to be doing what’s best for the citizens of Johnson County, and working together to make Indiana the best state to live, work and raise a family.

Together, we have helped Hoosiers – especially children – across the state by supporting students with dyslexia, establishing bullying prevention programs in schools and increasing accountability within the child welfare system. Without people in our community bringing their concerns to my attention, we would not have been able to address these critical issues.

As I complete my final year as state representative, I remain committed to keeping you and your family informed. Throughout session, I will continue providing updates to our community through multiple avenues, including my regular e-newsletter, which you can sign up to receive at www.in.gov/h58. Questions and feedback on potential new laws can also be emailed to h58@iga.in.gov, or give me a call at 317-234-9447.

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Johnson County lawmakers to host public meetings Saturday

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 7, 2020) — State lawmakers representing Johnson County will host two public meetings on Saturday, Jan. 11, to discuss the start of the 2020 legislative session.

State Reps. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland), Dollyne Sherman (R-Indianapolis) and John Young (R-Franklin) will discuss proposed legislation and answer questions from local Hoosiers.

The first meeting will take place 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Greenwood Public Library, located at 310 S. Meridian St. The second meeting will be from 1-2 p.m. at Franklin City Hall, located at 70 E. Monroe St.

“Communicating with our community continues to be my top priority,” Burton said. “Now that we are considering proposals for new laws, I want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. This year, we will be addressing many topics, from education and health care costs to improving government efficiency.”

The 2020 legislative session began Jan. 6 and must conclude by mid-March.

“As the legislative session begins, I remain committed to keeping the southside informed on critical issues impacting the state,” Sherman said. “These meetings are one of the best ways to provide updates to the community and hear directly from local residents.”

In addition, Young will host another meeting from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Trafalgar Town Hall, located at 2770 W. State Road 252. 

“With legislation already being discussed at the Statehouse, it is important to stay up-to-date on potential new laws,” Young said. “There are multiple avenues to provide input on bills, and these meetings are a great opportunity for us to have an open conversation. I hope to see many community members at the meetings.”

Other elected officials have been invited to these meetings.

Johnson County residents can contact Burton, Sherman or Young by calling 317-232-9600 with questions or comments.

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