WASHINGTON (July 25, 2016) - Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) recently introduced H.R. 5867, the National Strategy for School Security Act of 2016. This bill would require the Departments of Homeland Security and Education to create a national strategy to help schools protect themselves against acts of terrorism and other emergencies.
Sadly, schools across our country have become a soft target for disturbed individuals seeking to attack vulnerable populations. And, with the growing influence and reach of terrorist organizations like ISIS, our elementary and secondary schools are increasingly susceptible to terrorist threats. Yet astonishingly, the federal government has yet to put forth a standardized security strategy to help protect schools against these horrific acts.
In fact, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, collaboration between federal agencies to prevent and mitigate attacks on American schools has been wholly inadequate. The report recommended a higher level of interagency cooperation on school emergency preparedness to help schools prepare for and mitigate disasters, including natural disasters, school shootings, and acts of terrorism. Messer's bill is an attempt to address these concerns.
"We shouldn’t wait for ISIS to attack an elementary school before we put in place a viable, national strategy for school security that could help prevent a catastrophe,” Congressman Messer said. “While senseless tragedies like those in Newtown and Columbine have few easy answers, there are legitimate policy changes that could help prevent similar attacks in the future. Crafting a strategy that puts everyone on the same page is an important first step.”
WASHINGTON (July 20, 2016)—Today, Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) announced two job fairs to take place in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District this summer.
The first job fair will take place on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, in Muncie at Ball State’s Worthen Arena. The second fair will take place in Lawrenceburg at Ivy Tech Community College on Thursday, August 4, 2016. Both job fairs are open to veterans only from 1 to 1:30 p.m. and open to the general public from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
“Indiana’s unemployment rate continues to improve,” said Congressman Messer. “Unfortunately, many of the jobs gained over the past several years aren’t the kind needed to get Hoosiers back on their feet. That’s why I’m glad we’re able to partner with some great local organizations to host two job fairs this summer with more than 60 regional employers looking to hire.”
Admission to both 6th Congressional District job fairs is free. No pre-registration for attendees is required. For those who need transportation to the Muncie job fair, Muncie Indiana Transit Systems (MITS) is providing FREE rides to anyone who presents a job fair flier when boarding a bus from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on August 3rd. You can pick up a flier at Congressman Messer’s office in Muncie located at 107 W. Charles Street or at WorkOne located at 201 E. Charles Street. You can also print the flier by clicking here.
Employers scheduled to attend Muncie job fair:
Atlas Collections, Inc.
AEP – Indiana Michigan Power Company
Westminster Village Muncie, Inc.
Hillcroft Services, Inc.
Holland Colours Americas, Inc.
Com Net, LLC
Dot Transportation, Inc.
Ball State University
Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp)
LifeStream Services, Inc.
Motivate Our Minds
Kleenco Maintenance & Construction
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Willowbend Living Center
Innomark Communications, LLC
U.S. Small Business Administration
Eaton EMTs, Inc.
Bridges Community Services, Inc.
Primerica Financial Services
Indiana Department of Corrections
Morrison Woods Health Campus
Hickory Creek at New Castle
Youth Opportunity Center
Employers scheduled to attend Lawrenceburg job fair:
Indiana Department of Child Services
Dearborn County Hospital
SCSI-NSI Voice Data
Proctor & Gamble
Interim Healthcare of Southeast Indiana
Advantage Home Health Care
Community Mental Health Center, Inc.
Indiana Michigan Power
Toyota Motor Sales
SIILC Home Care Services
The Waters of Dillsboro
Rising Star Casino
Developmental Services, Inc.
McLane Food Services
CTS Driving School Academy
God’s Bright Treasures Ministry, Inc.
Benchmark Human Services
Home Care Home, Inc.
Stedman Machine Company
Polycraft Products, Inc.
Deufol Sunman, Inc.
Proximo Distillers Indiana
ClearPoint Federal Bank and Trust
Greene Respiratory Services
Total Quality Logistics
Global Atlantic Financial Group
WASHINGTON (July 19, 2016) — Today, Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) announced his team will be in Richmond for a “Constituent Services Workshop” on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.
This workshop is an opportunity for Sixth District residents to receive information and assistance with any federal matter. Caseworkers will be on-site to help with Social Security, VA and Disability claims, identity theft, and to answer any other questions regarding government agencies. Details on the “Constituent Services Workshop” are below:
Richmond Senior Center
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
1600 South 2nd Street
Richmond, IN 47374
More “Constituent Services Workshops” are to come! If you have any questions or concerns in advance of the workshop, please feel free to contact one of Congressman Messer’s offices in Shelbyville, Muncie, or Richmond.
WASHINGTON (July 18, 2016)—Last week, Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced the bipartisan Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act (H.R.5805) to protect Americans’ retirement savings.
The U.S. job market is changing and Americans move jobs more often today than ever before. Some researchers predict today's youngest workers will hold twelve to fifteen jobs over their lifetime. And with significant changes to our workforce, come significant changes in how Americans plan for retirement. As employers have shifted from away from defined benefit pensions and into individualized retirement plans such as 401(k)s, workers have become responsible for managing these accounts as they change jobs.
However, it can be difficult for employees to keep track of these accounts during job transitions. A survey by the investment management firm TIAA found that 30% of Americans have left an account at their previous employer, resulting in tens of millions of Americans with one neglected account and millions more with two or more accounts.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) allows employers to transfer former employees’ “orphaned” retirement accounts off their books and into Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Unfortunately, because of how these transferred accounts must be invested, the fees on these IRAs can outstrip the earnings—meaning that employees are actually losing money on these accounts. In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that an unclaimed IRA with a $1,000 balance could be reduced to $0 in 9 years because of investment fees.
“We must protect these employee retirement accounts in a responsible way that ensures they aren’t losing money,” Congressman Messer said. “The Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act will ensure that their money is invested wisely and that they’re able to easily locate these accounts whenever they need to.”
The bill uses the data employers are already required to report to create a national, online, lost and found for Americans' retirement accounts. This means that any worker can locate all of their former employer-sponsored retirement accounts in a simple online portal.
“Protecting low and middle-income workers retirement savings remains one of my top legislative priorities. Far too many Americans are putting their retirement at risk because a job change often results in a loss of savings. I believe this bipartisan bill can dramatically improve their post-employment years and help avoid a retirement crisis. By making it easier for workers to save, millions of Americans will enjoy their golden years secure and content,” said Congressman Neal, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
H.R. 5805 allows employers to more easily invest abandoned accounts into a target date retirement account rather than a money market fund. According to the GAO, if a $1,000 account were invested into a target date account it could grow to $2,700 over thirty years; whereas a $1,000 account in a money market fund would be reduced to $0.
“Starting a new job shouldn’t put workers at risk of losing their hard-earned retirement savings,” said Congresswoman Bonamici, a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “This bipartisan legislation will help working families be more secure when they retire by providing the tools necessary to keep track of their retirement savings when they move from job to job.”
WASHINGTON (July 14, 2016)— Yesterday, Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5755, the Letter of Estimated Annual Debt for Students (LEADS) Act to help deal with the student loan debt crisis. The bill provides college students with clear information about their student loans to protect them from inadvertently over-borrowing.
According to a recent Brookings Institute study, about half of all first-year undergraduate students in the U.S. seriously underestimate how much student debt they have. Worse yet, 14 percent of students who have student loans think that they do not have any student debt at all. Federal law requires colleges to provide financial counseling to borrowers at the beginning and end of their studies (typically referred to as entrance and exit counseling). But, there are no requirements for counseling while students are in school—when they are actually taking out loans.
Recognizing this alarming problem, Indiana University (IU) launched a program in 2012 to educate their students about their debt and what their debt means after graduation. IU began sending annual letters to every student estimating their total loan debt and future monthly payments. Four years later, officials at the University say undergraduate borrowing has dropped 18 percent, or $44 million.
Inspired by the results of the program, the Indiana General Assembly enacted bipartisan legislation in 2015 that required all colleges that accept state aid to send similar letters. Wisconsin and Nebraska followed with similar laws this spring.
“Student loan debt has eclipsed $1 trillion and is handcuffing a generation of young people. But Indiana University has proven that if you warn students about what their borrowing means for their future, they will be less likely to over-borrow,” Rep. Luke Messer said. “That’s why I am introducing the LEADS Act, to protect students from inadvertently over-borrowing. The bill will provide students with an easy-to-understand breakdown of how much debt they’ve accumulated and empower them to make informed decisions about their future.”
The LEADS Act will require higher education institutions that accept federal aid to send annual letters to students to inform them about their debt in three key ways: (1) provide information on loan debt incurred to date, (2) provide an estimate on future monthly repayments upon graduation, and (3) provide an estimate of how much loan debt would be incurred if borrowing continues at a similar rate. The bill also ensures that the Department of Education assists colleges and universities in complying with the bill and ensures confidential student information is kept secure.
This bipartisan bill is being supported by several members of the Indiana Congressional delegation, including Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN), Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Rep. André Carson (D-IN), Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), and Rep. Todd Young (R-IN).
“The LEADS Act fills a void in student loan counseling to ensure that students have the information they need to avoid inadvertently taking on debt they can’t repay after graduation,” Messer continued. “This simple bill will go a long way in ensuring students know the ramifications of borrowing and should help reduce overall student loan borrowing in the long run.”
For the full text of H.R. 5755, please click here.
WASHINGTON (July 13, 2016)—Today, Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) voted for, and the House passed, the Conscience Protection Act (S. 304). This bill prohibits the federal government, and any state or local government receiving federal funds, from discriminating against or penalizing individuals or institutions who do not want to participate in an abortion. In addition, it provides those who believe their rights of conscience have been violated with a private right of action to seek relief in the courts.
“Every life is precious,” said Congressman Messer. “That’s why we must continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Millions of people carry out the pro-life mission every day. Those individuals should have the right to live freely in accordance with their beliefs, and not be punished because of deeply held convictions.”
Under current law, conscience protections exist to protect the freedoms of nurses, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, employers, and social service agencies to choose not to perform, refer for, or provide coverage for elective abortions without fear of losing their jobs, federal contracts, or any other punitive measure. The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights is tasked with enforcement.
In 2014, the state of California decided to require all insurance plans offered in the state to cover abortion without restriction. This forced employers like churches, social service non-profit groups, and religious entities and health systems to offer health insurance that paid for elective abortion, violating their deeply held convictions. Numerous complaints were filed with HHS, but on June 21, 2016, the Department concluded no rights were violated.
It’s clear the Obama Administration has failed to enforce the law. In response, S. 304 provides greater remedy to further protect medical personnel, employers, and others who do not want to participate in abortion. Under this legislation, anyone faced with losing their job because of personal beliefs regarding abortion could go to court for immediate relief, rather than be wholly dependent on HHS’ enforcement whims.
“The Conscience Protection Act protects those among us working to protect life. If the government can take away our liberty to respect human life, there isn’t a right the government can’t take away. I remain committed to supporting efforts to defend every child’s right to life,” said Rep. Messer.
S. 304 passed the House by a vote of 245-182.
WASHINGTON (July 13, 2016)—Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) was allowed to grant carryover waivers for schools impacted by IDOE’s flawed fiscal year 2016 funding allocations. This will permit affected schools to use vital Title I funds next year to help educate Indiana’s most disadvantaged students.
“This is the best possible outcome for thousands of Hoosier public school students,” said Congressman Luke Messer. “Title I money makes sure the most at-risk kids get a fair chance to succeed. Without the ability of schools to carry over these funds, instruction would have suffered.”
In September of 2015, the U.S. Department of Education informed IDOE that the method used to calculate Title I disbursements was inconsistent with the law. Among several errors identified by the Department, it was concluded that IDOE was incorrectly applying the “hold harmless” provision to public charter schools, which caused some disadvantaged students to lose out on over $2 million. Correcting the misallocations took IDOE 6 months, which is functionally too late for schools to use the funds.
Congressman Messer, along with Congressman Todd Rokita (IN-04), sent a letter last month asking the U.S. Secretary of Education to grant a waiver to each of the schools who received additional money so they would have more time to spend Title I funds. Under current law, a school can seek a waiver once every three years in order to carry over excess allocations. Of the 54 local education agencies who received excess funds from IDOE to correct the misallocation, three were ineligible to utilize their waiver. The Secretary announced those three local education agencies would be granted a waiver and granted more time to disburse this money. Those institutions are Indianapolis Public Schools, Edison Learning Roosevelt, and Dr. Robert H. Faulkner Academy.
“I’m glad the U.S. Department of Education corrected IDOE’s error and prevented our most vulnerable students from being penalized. Our school districts now have more time to expend these funds in a thoughtful, well-planned manner,” said Congressman Luke Messer.
The letter from the U.S. Department of Education can be found here.
WASHINGTON (July 12, 2016)— Today, Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) introduced H.R. 5730, the Fair Treatment of Scholarships Act, to make college more affordable by eliminating a tax penalty that treats scholarships used to pay for room and board as taxable income.
Over the past decade, prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board at public institutions have risen over 40 percent - four times faster than the rate of inflation. Fortunately, many students receive need-based and merit-based scholarships that help offset these costs. However, only scholarship funds used to pay for tuition and school supplies are tax free. So when college students use their scholarships for living expenses, including room and board, the value of those scholarships is subject to federal income tax.
“At a time when students across the country are facing rising education costs, it is not fair to force students to pay taxes on the scholarships they earn,” Congressman Messer said. “This is really just common sense. We should reward students who earn scholarships, not penalize them by taxing the value of their awards.”
The Fair Treatment of Scholarships Act eliminates this tax penalty and expands tax-free treatment for scholarships used to cover living expenses. In addition, the bill exempts scholarships, up to $300 annually, that are used for out-of-class research expenses. In doing so, the bill harmonizes the tax treatment of scholarships with other forms of Federal educational assistance, such as Coverdell education savings accounts, which already provide favorable tax treatment for college living expenses.
This legislation is the byproduct of work of the House Republican Policy Committee Millennial Task Force, a group dedicated to empowering Millennials through sensible policies, limited government, and free market opportunities. The Task Force recognized the burden that rising costs of higher education has on younger Americans. H.R. 5730 is a targeted bill designed to provide immediate relief to students who have worked hard to earn financial assistance and pursue the American Dream.
“As a Member of the Higher Education Subcommittee and Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee’s Millennial Task Force, I am focused on increasing access to higher education for our next generation by addressing college affordability,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Our tax code should not punish students who earn a scholarship and I am pleased to introduce this commonsense legislation to help make college more affordable.”
For the full text of H.R. 5730, please click here.Read More
WASHINGTON (July 11, 2016)— Today, Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced H.R. 5712, the Obamacare Regressive Tax Relief Act. This legislation stops the Obamacare uninsured tax hike and protects Millennials and low income Americans who cannot afford to buy health insurance.
“Years after the passage of President’s Obama’s signature health care law, health insurance premiums continue to rise and affordable health insurance is becoming increasingly out of the reach for Millennials and low-income Americans,” said Congressman Messer. “I have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate, but until we have a new President in the White House we won’t see a full repeal.”
The Obamacare uninsured tax penalty disproportionately hurts the Millennial generation (individuals age 18 to 34) and low-income Americans. Today, there are 32.9 million uninsured Americans--12.7 million of which are Millennials—all of whom are liable for annual uninsured tax penalties under Obamacare.
“We must act now to provide relief to Millennials and low-income Americans who can’t afford to wait for a new President,” Messer continued. “The Obamacare uninsured tax went up over 200% to $325 last year and is set to go up to $695 this year. This bill reduces the Obamacare uninsured tax to the 2014 level of $95 to provide immediate relief to struggling Americans.”
According to a recent Harris Poll, the most common reason Millennials do not carry health insurance is the lack of affordable options. And the Obamacare uninsured tax punishes Millennials for their inability to pay for a product they cannot afford. H.R. 5712 provides direct relief to Millennials and low income Americans who are already struggling to get ahead.
This legislation is the byproduct of the good work of the House Republican Policy Committee Millennial Task Force, a group dedicated to empowering Millennials through sensible policies, limited government, and free market opportunities. The Task Force, recognized the costly burdens the Affordable Care Act is having on younger Americans and is moving to provide relief, within the existing political climate.
"As the Chair of the Millennial Task Force, one of the most common issues we've heard about is the high cost of healthcare," said Congresswoman Stefanik. "The Affordable Care Act has caused premiums and out of pocket costs to skyrocket, and it's unfair to further punish the millennial generation with a punitive tax for not being able to afford these costs. This commonsense legislation would prevent millennials from being hit with crippling IRS penalties while they are trying to pay off school loans and begin their careers."
The text of the can be found here.Read More
WASHINGTON (July 8, 2016)—Today, Congressman Luke Messer voted for the Conference Report to accompany the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524)—a comprehensive package to combat the opioid epidemic devastating communities across the country.
“The opioid epidemic hits especially close to home for us in southeastern Indiana. The rate of drug abuse and overdose has been disproportionately high in recent years, tearing apart families and devastating communities,” said Congressman Messer.
The package passed by the House today included provisions to modify prescribing and pain management practices, included greater means for law enforcement to combat opioid overdose, increased access to drug addiction treatment services, and provided vital resources to lower opioid abuse rates among veterans.
“Substance abuse is an ugly trap that ruins lives and can have generational consequences. Today was a positive step forward to pass legislation that will have a definitive, measurable impact to reverse this trend.”
The final version passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 407-5 and now moves on to the Senate.
508 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Luke Messer is the Congressman for Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, a 19 county region of east-central and southeastern Indiana comprised of manufacturing and agricultural communities. Elected President of the Freshman Class by his peers, Messer serves on the House Committees on Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Education & the Workforce.
Congressman Messer is a 6th-generation Hoosier and national advocate for limited government, fiscal discipline, a strong national defense, and traditional values. Messer opposes bailouts, government takeovers and runaway federal spending.
Prior to his service in Congress, Luke Messer gained experience as a lawyer and former two-term State Representative working with Governor Daniels on budget issues as a Member of the Indiana House Ways & Means Committee. Messer is an accomplished education reformer: authoring nationally recognized high school drop-out reform legislation in the Indiana Statehouse and serving in the private sector as the President and CEO of the Hoosiers for Economic Growth Network & School Choice Indiana.
Raised by a single-mom who still works at a factory in Greensburg Indiana, Luke Messer was taught the value of hard work at an early age. He worked his way through school with jobs that included collecting garbage, mowing lawns, waiting tables, telemarketing and umpiring baseball games. Eventually, Messer graduated summa cum laude & Phi Beta Kappa from Wabash College. Luke earned his law degree at Vanderbilt University where he also served on the Law Review.
Luke and his wife Jennifer have two daughters, one son and three dogs. Luke has also served as an elder at his church and is the author of a children’s book about Indiana entitled “Hoosier Heart.”
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This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines. https://t.co/OxfT3AYzTi
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