Drugs, police, veteran bills on Bartels’ list


ECKERTY — State Rep. Stephen Bartels, R-Eckerty plans to whittle down the ideas he has for legislation to make sure he proposes no more than 10 this legislative session.

“I actually have more bills than I’m allowed to present,” he said with a laugh.

But he knows of a few that will have most of his attention.

Bartels will submit legislation that allow unused medication to be donated back to pharmacies and reissued to other patients.

“Pharmacists, basically the ones that can legally have licenses to dispense drugs, can accept drugs that were going to normally be thrown away,” he said. “It allows (them) to take back products and inventory them.” They could choose to be in this voluntary program, he said. There would be established procedures in place to inventory the drugs, including an inspection process.

Those unused drugs in the inventory could then be dispensed to patients who need them but can’t afford to buy them.

“It’s generally somebody who is uninsured or underinsured and don’t have the finances to be able to afford these drugs that would qualify,” Bartels said.

This would be for prescribed drugs that are not scheduled drugs, so this does not include narcotics. Some qualifying drugs would be chemotherapy, HIV and diabetes medications.

Bartels has been working on the bill for more than a year and actually proposed the same measure last year. But it did not get a hearing in the House’ Public Health Committee.

“We’ve got a new chairman of health, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be heard this year,” he said. “All the stakeholders have said in a meeting face to face, of course they can always change, that everybody supports the bill.”

Bartels believes the bill will pass this time, which he feels will help financially struggling patients.

“The bottom line is,” he said, “instead of throwing all this stuff away or burning them, we can reuse it for our citizens who need these drugs but can’t get them based on finances.”

Bartels is also working on legislation that would allow those licensed to dispense drugs to send to the state a report on the days drugs are dispensed.

“The way the law reads (now) is you have to do a report every day, even if you don’t dispense anything, even if you’re not open,” he said. “So I’ve basically changed it the only time you have to report is if you actually dispense drugs.”

Another bill would add back into the courts code language that was inadvertently left out concerning using firearms against police officers.

“One of the things that was omitted from using a firearm against police officers was the offense of attempted murder. So this basically putting that back in,” Bartels said.

So if a person is convicted of attempted murder of a police officer using a firearm, that person would face additional penalties.

Bartels will carry a bill for the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs that would allow the agency to use some discretion in helping veterans who were not honorably discharged.

“Right now currently the way the state law reads, which is not in tune with the federal law, is you can only get some financial help if you’re honorably discharged,” he said. “This is just giving them some flexibility to help the veterans that probably need the most help.

“This would give (veterans affairs) a little bit of flexibility to say, ‘Well, if you got discharged because of a drug problem, we can still help you,” Bartels said as an example.

He will propose legislation that would allow small businesses to represent themselves in small claims cases, instead of having to hire an attorney. And Bartels plans to co-author with another legislator a bill that will regulate the fine for semis that are found to be overweight on the roads.

Truckers’ or farmers’ trucks are overweight, they are ticketed by the police and fined by the Indiana Department of Revenue.

“We’re looking at making this this double jeopardy a little more palatable for our farmers and truck drivers. “We don’t want to encourage anybody to be overweight on the roads. “But it’s not (fair or) just the way they’re doing it.”

The fine from the police is based on how much the truck is overweight; but the fine from the revenue department is a large flat rate, Bartels said.

The bill will change that flat rate to one that is based on how much the truck is overweight. “If you’re over by a pound you don’t get charged the same as if you’re over by 500 pounds,” Bartels said.

The idea is to base the fine on the weight and intentionality.

“If somebody’s hauling scrap or grain and they’re 1000 pounds overweight, they probably know they’re that way,” he said. “But if they’re over a little bit, they shouldn’t be fine the same as somebody where you can see their intentions.”

Bartels represents District 74, which covers Cass, Ferdinand, Jackson, Jefferson and Patoka townships in Dubois County, portions of Spencer and Orange counties and all of Perry and Crawford counties.

Sen. Erin Houchin, said that she was still working on legislation and would give a rundown of her bills at a later date.

The 122nd session of Indiana General Assembly will start Monday.

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