Judy: Education funding, opioid epidemic top list of legislative priorities

 Judy: Education funding, opioid epidemic top list of legislative priorities

Posted by: Jake Thompson  | Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Under strong Republican leadership, Indiana is growing with a robust economy, low taxes and more Hoosiers working than ever before. Our solid fiscal foundation and economic momentum puts us in the position to build off our strengths while focusing on a number of issues facing our state.

Traditional public school enrollment exceeded budgetary forecasts by over 6,000 students. To account for that growth, a new bill would allow funds to be transferred from the State Tuition Reserve Account to schools. The unexpected enrollment increase is good news for our public schools and House Bill 1001 is critical to ensuring they continue to be fully funded. Currently, Indiana spends about $7 billion annually on K-12 public education.

Attacking the opioid epidemic continues to be a priority as it affects many Hoosiers and their families. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, nearly 100 Hoosiers die each month from a drug overdose and there was a 52 percent increase in opioid deaths from 2015 to 2016. The ripple effect felt by Indiana’s social service agencies and law enforcement continues to grow larger by the day.

Proposed legislation could create up to nine new addiction treatment centers, greatly improving access for Hoosiers, particularly in underserved areas. It’s critical for addicts to have options to begin and sustain their recovery process. Additionally, this proposal would provide provisional credentialing to mental health professionals who are qualified to treat those with addiction. When those professionals change employers, the legislation proposes to streamline the hiring process for addiction treatment providers and in turn accelerate the delivery of qualified treatment to those who need it.

According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, there are nearly twice as many Indiana children in the foster care system than there are available foster homes. More than half of those children have a parent with substance abuse issues – a growing problem due in part to the opioid epidemic. That’s why Indiana House lawmakers partnered with the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy and its Institute for Excellence during the 2018 legislative session.

Many constituents have personally reached out to me saying they use CBD oil for various ailments ranging from anxiety to pain relief, and I believe this product should be a legal option for consumers in our state.

CBD oil is proven to treat maladies such as Parkinson's, ALS, MS, fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis and other nervous system disorders. A proposal for a new law would expand access to CBD oil by allowing Hoosiers to possess, use and sell the product as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, and is properly tested and adequately labeled.

As lawmakers consider new statutes to help our local schools and establish more opioid treatment options in the state, among others, it is important for us to continue to communicate.

Please contact me anytime to share your thoughts on state issues by email at h83@iga.in.gov or by calling 317-232-9863. I encourage you to subscribe to my e-newsletter providing updates at www.in.gov/h83. To watch hearings and debates online, visit iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Christopher Judy (R-Fort Wayne) represents House District 83, which includes portions of Whitley and Allen counties.

A high-resolution photo of Judy can be downloaded by clicking here.