Local lawmakers hope to see bills through legislature

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The legislative session is past the halfway mark, and legislators representing Dubois County are still keeping busy with bills they have filed.

Now the Indiana House of Representatives and Indiana Senate are looking at bills that have come from the other chamber.

Bills had to pass from their original chamber to the other chamber last week. Those that did not pass are dead for this session.

Indiana House members filed 710 bills and Senate members 636 bills. Of that, 201 House bills and 218 Senate bills have passed their respective chambers.

State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, has 11 bills that have passed through the Senate.

He is glad Senate Bill 551, which adds more protections for victims of a crime, is still alive. He also mentioned at a meeting Saturday the need for Senate Bill 162, which requires state employee health plans, Medicaid, accident and sickness insurance, and health maintenance organization contracts to cover alternative pain treatment. That one also passed.

“It allows for chiropractic care, physical therapy, occupational therapy,” Messmer explained, “to heal the body itself, rather than get somebody prescribed to opioids and potentially addicted.”

State Rep. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, has a few bills still moving. A couple of those he spoke about Saturday are House Bill 1652, which would give qualified medical assistants who work with licensed nurses the ability to administer insulin to patients, and House Bill 1064, which would provide tuition to public safety officers for any certificate or associate degree program offered at Ivy Tech Community College for up to two academic years.

“I hope this will scale up the workforce,” he said, “and entice people, especially firefighters, to join the public service sector.”

State Rep. Steve Bartels, R-Eckerty, has two bills he authored that are still moving. One is specifically to help the North Spencer County School Corporation with its operations fund levy. The other, House Bill 1486, focuses on sewage treatment and disposal technology and having the state health department create a technical review panel to look into new technology offered for treatment and disposal.

“There is some new technology out there that could be cheaper,” Bartels said. “We have a lot of septic system failures in Indiana; we rank pretty high on that. A lot of homes that are affected are the elderly and low-income housing. So we want to consider those alternatives.”

State Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, has more than two dozen bills now being considered in the House. Many of the bills concern the welfare of children and the opioid epidemic. An example of those are Senate bills 1 and 141.

Senate Bill 1 focuses on making improvements in the Indiana Department of Child Services program. “We hope to streamline the system to get children into permanent homes and out of the foster care system,” Houchin has said. She added that she also wants to improve the relationship with foster parents and the state agency, as well as have more resources for case workers to utilize in emergency situations, such as placing a child with a family member. Working on the Department of Child Services is a focus for state officials.

Senate Bill 141 will require opioid treatment centers to follow rules and protocols that will be established by the Indiana Department of Health and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana.

“There are currently more than 600 (office-based opioid treatment) facilities in Indiana. They receive Medicaid funding, dispense opioid-replacement medications and operate virtually unregulated,” Houchin said. “SB 141 would impose modest regulations on these facilities to help ensure quality care is available for those who need it.”

To see the full list of bills still being considered by the Legislature, visit the Legislature’s website, iga.in.gov. The bills are listed under the tab marked “Legislation.”




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