Indiana GOP’s 2018 agenda to address opioids, education, booze

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – We’re not even a full week into the 2018 session, and we’re already getting an up-close and personal look inside what’s most important to Indiana Senate Republicans. State Senate President Pro Tem, David Long, a Republican from Fort Wayne, outlined their 2018 agenda Monday.

“This session, we will continue to fight the opioid epidemic, look for ways to improve our workforce development efforts and support our schools. We will also be working to improve civil forfeiture laws and will work to allow the carryout sale of alcohol on Sundays. There is a lot of work to be done in the coming months on all of these issues, but our caucus is ready to take on those challenges. We look forward to the session ahead,” Long explained.

State Senator Erin Houchin, a Republican from Salem, said today more than 40 percent of opiate prescribing doctors are registered with the state, but that number could be better.

“Senate Bill 221 requires all practitioners who wish to prescribe opiates to register with INSPECT, our prescription drug monitoring program and will phase in over a 3-year period, mandatory searches of the INSPECT report,” Houchin explained.

The goal, she said, is to make sure doctors aren’t over-prescribing opiates.

Lawmakers also want to make sure you kids are prepared for the future, with requirements in the classroom.

State Senator Jeff Raatz, a Republican from Centrville, has introduced a bill that would eventually require high schools to offer a computer programming course.

“It’s not mandated that students take it. It would be an elective,” said Raatz. “It beings in 2021. The second part of this bill, is it creates a fund to skill-up the teachers across the state to be able to teach the class.”

Within those same classrooms is where Senate Bill 189 comes in. State Senator Ryan Mishler, a Republican from Bremen, said his bill puts money back into public schools that could lose money.

Recently, the state Department of Education described a shortfall of $9.3 million in per-student funding because the Legislature underestimated the number of public school students by about 6,000 when it approved this school year’s budget.

Also in your child’s school, State Senator Dennis Kruse, a Republican from Auburn, said he wants to change Indiana’s high school diploma offerings from 4 down to 1. The State’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, announced today she backs his bill.

“We are pleased Senator Kruse is addressing the issues surrounding the future of Indiana’s high school diploma,” said McCormick. “If passed, Senate Bill 177 will result in a fair and accurate reflection of school and student performance. While recent diploma concerns were created as a result of federal action, the Senator’s bill will keep the general diploma intact. Senator Kruse has the Department’s full support.”

Kruse explained: “This will create the Indiana diploma. The Indiana diploma will be the basic general diploma. Then we will add things to the diploma if you get core 40, if you get academic honors or if you get the career honors.”

Far from the classroom, another hot-topic: State Senator Ron Alting, a Republican from Lafayette, said his Sunday Alcohol Sales bill would allow alcohol to be sold in convenience, grocery, liquor and drug stores from noon to 8 p.m.

“Without question, the summer study commission was a valuable tool in getting testimony from all entities of people from around the state. It was unanimous that it is simply the time to do a Sunday sales bill,” Alting said.

The two other areas are workforce development and civic forfeiture.

State Senator Rodric Bray, a Republican from Martinsville, said his bill would find a better balance between what police need, and your constitutional rights.