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home : most recent : statewide implications July 22, 2017


3/18/2017 12:51:00 PM
Statehouse roundup: Guns, opioid bills move ahead in Indiana General Assembly

Kaitlin L. Lange, Evansville Courier & Press

With more than 1,000 bills flooding the Statehouse this legislative session, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Here’s what you may have missed this week:

State house employees and guns

The House Public Policy committee approved legislation Wednesday from a local senator to allow all statehouse employees to carry firearms at work.

The bill from Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, would expand current law that allows lawmakers to bring their guns to the Statehouse. Tomes frequently files socially conservative bills on firearms and other matters, such as abortion.

Opponents worried the bill could accidentally put weapons in the wrong hands, while supporters such as House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said

it would keep employees safe as they walked to their cars at night.

The bill was already approved in the Senate and heads to the House floor for a vote next.

Senate committee removes voucher language in House pre-K bill

The House and Senate have different ideas on how to approach the idea of prekindergarten funding..

On Wednesday the Senate Education and Career Development committee voted to remove language in the House version that would have allowed those using an On My Way pre-K grant to receive a voucher to continue going to a private school. Opponents of the House version saw the plan as an extension of the voucher program.

Bosma said he preferred keeping the voucher language in the bill, but the two chambers would eventually work out their differences in conference committee.

“We’re interested in having a strong pre-K program and if that is a stalling point for the Senate, I’ll have to look at whether its something we reinsert or live without,” Bosma
said. The Senate also slashed the $10 million both the House and Holcomb want for On My Way Pre-K and instead allocated just $3 million for the program, as well as an additional $1 million for an online pre-school pilot program. The amended bill passed through the committee 8-1 and heads to the appropriations committee next.

Bill on suicide prevention heads to Senate floor

Lawmakers are attempting to prevent teen suicide by utilizing the people with whom students spend a large portion of their day — teachers.

The Senate Education and Career Development committee approved legislation Wednesday that requires employees in direct contact with children in grades 7-12 to go through two hours of suicide prevention training.

Supporters hope it will help teachers spot warning signs and know how to react if a student tells them they are considering suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those ages 15-24 in Indiana, according to a recently released report from the Indiana Youth Institute.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

Lawmakers work to fight opioid abuse

As part of almost 20 bills designated to fight the opioid abuse, Senate Bill 226 would limit the amount of pain medication doctors can prescribe. The House Public Health committee approved the legislation this week, which will head to the House floor for a vote.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams testified in support of the bill, saying almost 80 percent of heroin users claim their addiction started with a prescription.

“Keeping unnecessary opioids out of medicine cabinets and off the streets is a key component in our fight against the drug epidemic,” Adams said in a statement. “While opioids do have a role in pain management, empowering prescribers to make the safest choices for their patients will help save lives in Indiana. That’s simply good medicine.”

Committee approves bill to let domestic violence victims switch phone plans

A bill that passed out of the House Judiciary committee Monday would allow domestic violence victims to separate from their current phone plan with a court order. Currently, when a victim tries to leave a dangerous situation, their abuser still has access to their phone information, such as location and call data.

“... (Victims) can keep their contact information and stay connected to their network and their families, and have the ability to get out of this violent situation with all of their important data, (as well as) find shelter, support and guidance,” said bill author Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem.

The judiciary committee unanimously approved the measure.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Related Stories:
• EDITORIAL: Bill off target in seeking more guns at Statehouse
• New opioid prescriptions likely to be limited to one-week supply after July 1
• Indiana House bill could make it easier for voucher schools to start

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