What are your state legislators doing on your behalf? The Indiana House Republicans host a podcast each week to answer this question and talk about what’s happening in your state government. The podcast features one-on-one interviews with lawmakers who highlight new laws, events and other issues impacting Hoosiers.
Every day, 129 Americans die of a drug overdose, with 61 percent of those deaths relating to pharmaceutical opioids or heroin. Indiana is not immune to this spreading epidemic. In fact, the number of heroin overdoses in the state increased 2.7 times from 2011 to 2014.
This week is Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, drawing attention to the dangerous cycle of opioid misuse and heroin abuse across the country.
State lawmakers are working to address the growing drug problem in Indiana.
A new law is preventing fatal drug overdoses by permitting pharmacies to sell overdose intervention drugs, like Narcan, over-the-counter without a prescription. Narcan is a safe, non-addictive medication that reverses the effects of drug overdoses. Making medicine like Narcan readily available can save lives in the event of an overdose of heroin or prescription pain medicine. Indiana also provides Narcan training for first responders and the general population.
Another new law requires Medicaid coverage for inpatient detoxification for the treatment of opioid or alcohol dependence. This law is a product of the Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force and will provide an evidence-based comprehensive approach to opioid treatment through clinical practice guidelines.
Many overdoses are a result of prescription drug abuse. To help prevent prescription drug abuse, find a Drug Take-Back Location near you.
During this week and moving forward, we encourage you to start conversations with your family and friends about the devastating effects of opioid and heroin abuse. If you or someone you know is seeking treatment, please visit BitterPill.IN.gov.
“Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
This was the question asked to American households across the nation, to which one in six answered “yes.” “How Hungry is America?,” a study conducted by the Food Research & Action Center, summarizes data about food hardship in the U.S.
Despite Indiana’s growing economy, 15.5 percent of households reported they struggled to afford enough food in 2015. Thankfully, communities and businesses across the state have come together to help hungry Hoosiers, especially through September, which is Hunger Action Month.
The Indiana Farms to Food Banks Program provides fresh, healthy produce to Hoosiers in need while creating a market for surplus or blemished produce. Through the program, participating food banks can buy perfectly edible produce below wholesale prices. Farmers and producers interested in getting involved should visit the Feeding Indiana’s Hungry website.
Kroger launched a new campaign that aims to reduce flu-related hospitalizations while feeding others. Now through April 1, 2017, Kroger will donate one meal through the Feeding America network of food banks for every flu shot administered at all Kroger pharmacies or The Little Clinic locations.
Midas is trying to “Drive Out Hunger” during September by donating one meal to Feeding America for every share of their YouTube video on social media and for every Instagram photo using #MakeThisMealReal. Another way to get involved on social media is by participating in Feeding America’s #Spoontember to help get people talking about Hunger Action Month.
Visit Feeding America’s website for other promotions to help end hunger.
Don’t forget – you can volunteer your time or donate supplies to your local food bank year-round. Find your closest food bank here.
Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Nearly 3,000 lives were taken in the morning hours of 9/11, including nine Hoosiers who were working in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon.
Just 16 hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers, 277 Hoosiers stepped foot onto Ground Zero to help in recovery efforts. Doctors, police officers, firefighters, mental health counselors and many more from Indiana bravely helped their fellow Americans.
Let’s remember the role all the brave first responders played on Sept. 11, 2001, and continue honoring those who dedicate themselves to protecting us.
Please take a moment to reflect on what was lost that September morning 15 years ago.
We will never forget the courage shown on 9/11 and how our country stood up against the face of evil.
May God continue to bless America.
With the start of the new school year, there are steps we can take to keep Hoosier students safe.
State law requires motorists to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off children. Watch for school buses with their stop arms extended and red lights flashing, which means drivers from all directions must stop. This law applies to all roadways, unless it’s divided by a physical barrier.
Also, look out for increased pedestrian traffic and posted speed limits in school zones. If you have a child who rides the bus, click here for tips to help keep them safe.
College students need to be aware of Indiana’s Lifeline Law, which works to save lives. The law provides immunity from underage drinking, public intoxication, minor in possession and other similar crimes for minors seeking help for themselves or for others. The main goal of this law is to encourage all Hoosiers to call the police if they or someone they are with is in serious danger, regardless of the circumstances. Although minors should not consume alcohol until the legal age of 21, no one’s life should be risked for fear of being penalized for underage drinking.
This immunity also applies to those who use the new text to 911 option. Calling 911 is always preferred, but the new capability allows dispatchers to more easily follow up on 911 hang-ups. Text to 911 services reached all counties in Indiana last month.
Best wishes to our students, parents and educators for another safe and fun school year!
We are now accepting applications for our 2017 internships!
The House Republican Internship Program is a unique opportunity to participate in state government at the Indiana Statehouse while gaining hands-on experience. This paid program during the spring semester allows interns to immerse themselves in the legislative process by working directly with state representatives.
The internship is open to college sophomores, juniors and seniors, graduate students, and recent graduates of all majors. Interns receive a bi-weekly compensation of $700 and opportunities to earn college credits. This is a full-time position at the Statehouse in Indianapolis for the length of the legislative session, which runs January through April.
Interns will be placed in one of five departments:
- Legislative: Interns will be paired with a full-time legislative assistant as they work directly with an assigned group of state representatives. Some of the responsibilities include: tracking legislation, working with constituents and researching legislative questions or problems.
- Communications: Interns will be paired with a full-time press secretary as they assist with media relations for an assigned group of state representatives. Some of the responsibilities include: writing press releases, audio and video production, social media, arranging interviews with reporters, photography and covering press conferences.
- Technology: Interns will help provide technical support to the caucus for laptops and tablets, and assist with the livestreaming of official house business online.
- Fiscal Policy: Intern will work with the fiscal staff on issues that directly relate to the state’s finances and biennial budget.
- Policy: Intern will work alongside the policy staff in tracking and analyzing legislation.
The House Republican Internship Program is a great opportunity to make valuable contacts while building your resume. To learn more about internship opportunities and the application process, visit indianahouserepublicans.com/internship.
A new law will help ease the financial challenges faced by many Hoosiers with disabilities.
In 2013, the federal government enacted the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, allowing people with disabilities to set up tax-free savings accounts. The money in these savings accounts may be used to pay for services including medical and dental care, education, employment training, housing and transportation. Under this new law, Indiana established its own ABLE Program.
The ABLE Act provides individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other Americans have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts and individual retirement accounts. It will allow those with disabilities to plan and save for future qualified expenses, which will benefit both their families and our communities.
Also, those with developmental disabilities will be able to better avoid misunderstandings as a result of another new law.
Hoosiers may request an identification card from the Indiana State Department of Health indicating that they are medically diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or another developmental disability. These cards are not required, but cardholders who choose to use them will likely be able to better communicate to officers or anyone else that they have a disability. These have proven useful in the event that if, for instance, autistic behavior is mistaken for noncompliance or aggression.
House Republicans support opportunities for each Hoosier to have a high quality of life.
Starting July 1, Indiana will be the first state to begin developing an online child abuse registry.
This new law, named after Kirk Coleman, is the result of Kirk’s death while under the care of a babysitter who had been previously charged with child neglect.
In a year from now, possibly sooner, people will be able to access an online registry providing a list of all individuals convicted of child abuse or neglect — similar to sex-offender registries.
Protecting and providing a safe environment for Hoosier children to grow and learn is a priority for House Republicans. The goal of this law is to prevent tragedies like Kirk’s by providing caregivers with a tool to better ensure those caring for children are nonviolent and trustworthy.
In 2016, House Republicans placed special emphasis on enacting policies promoting greater public safety for Hoosiers.
Unfortunately, human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world. Three new Indiana laws focus on combating this heinous crime.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1199, authored by State Rep. Wendy McNamara, requires an individual found guilty of promoting the trafficking of a minor to register as a sex offender on the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry. The Indiana Department of Correction and police officers across the state monitor the database to track offenders to ensure they are not breaking the law once released.
HEA 1028, authored by State Rep. Randy Truitt, increases penalties for individuals profiting from human trafficking and those who knowingly visit places in violation of trafficking laws. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 305, sponsored by State Reps. Dave Frizzell and Wendy McNamara, allows the Department of Child Services to intervene and serve children who are victims of human trafficking.
Here are highlights of other new laws to keep Hoosiers safe:
- HEA 1105: Protecting children conceived as the result of rape by allowing mothers to request the termination of the rapist’s parental rights.
- SEA 14: Increasing penalties for criminals convicted of child exploitation and pornography crimes.
- HEA 1048: Requiring motorists in minor crashes to safely move vehicles to the side of the road and out of traffic.
- SEA 248: Prohibiting motorists convicted of speeding twice in work zones within a year from driving for 60 days.
- SEA 357: Posting names and records of individuals convicted of child abuse on an online registry maintained by the state court system.
- HEA 1019: Balancing public transparency with the privacy rights of citizens by establishing guidelines for releasing police video recordings.
- HEA 1211: Increasing penalties for criminals who cause property damage while manufacturing meth, and tracking meth-fire incidents to combat the problem.