Mahan: Moving Indiana forward

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, March 18, 2016 9:14 am

Moving Indiana forward

It’s hard to believe the 2016 legislative session is over. This was a very fast-paced session, filled with many legislative accomplishments. This year, House Republicans focused on moving Indiana forward by funding Indiana’s infrastructure needs and curbing illegal drug use. I am proud to say that we accomplished both of these goals.

To ensure that our current infrastructure needs are met, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001 directs $186 million upfront to a newly created local road and bridge matching grant account. The bill also redirects 1.5 cents of the 7 cents of sales tax on gasoline to the matching account as a source of ongoing funding and codifies the current equivalent of 1 cent already being dedicated to road funding. This means 2.5 cents of every 7 cents per gallon in sales tax is going toward roads—and, that’s in addition to the state’s 18 cent gasoline excise tax, which is already dedicated solely toward roads and bridges. About $328 million would go toward state road and bridge maintenance over the next two years. Next year, lawmakers will need to continue working on a long-term plan that will address our future road funding needs without leaving our children and grandchildren with debt in the form of crumbling infrastructure. 

Under Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 67, local governments would receive up to $430 million for road and bridge improvements across the state. In addition, about $505 million in local option income tax reserves currently held by the state will be returned to local units with $330 million dedicated to roads.

Unfortunately, for the third year in a row, Indiana has led the nation in methamphetamine lab incidents. I was proud to support several pieces of legislation to tackle the meth scourge afflicting our state. Senate Enrolled Act 80 maintains legitimate access to pseudoephedrine (PSE)—an ingredient in certain cold, flu, and allergy medications and an essential precursor to make meth—to Hoosiers without a prescription. Pharmacists, upon making a professional determination, may sell an extraction-resistant PSE formulation or a smaller package of PSE to a purchaser who does not have a current relationship with the pharmacy. A prescription would only be required if a purchaser refuses the alternative options.

House Enrolled Act 1157 makes it illegal for all individuals convicted of a meth-related felony to possess PSE without a prescription. A stop-sale alert would be issued by the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), a real-time electronic tracking system used by pharmacies and law enforcement, when one of these felons attempts to purchase PSE.

To keep the worst drug dealers and traffickers behind bars, HEA 1235 imposes targeted mandatory minimum sentences. For offenders with a prior drug dealing conviction, a second conviction involving meth or heroin would result in a minimum 10-year sentence.

Finally, to help reduce recidivism rates, a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, House Republicans supported HEA 1102. This legislation would increase collaboration between the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, probation departments, community correction agencies and all local criminal justice agencies that receive any funding from the Department of Corrections (DOC) for community supervision of adult offenders. With approval by the Indiana Budget Agency, the DOC would then be able to provide additional grants to county jails to implement evidence-based mental health and addiction forensic treatment services.

I sponsored SEA 147, which equips teachers and school administrators with technology to notify first responders in the case of a crisis. As a state legislator, I feel a certain responsibility to protect Hoosier children and educators. This legislation will help create an environment where students are able to focus on their education and not worry about their safety. Indiana will be one of the first states to create these school safety standards.

House Enrolled Act 1019, legislation that I have been working with members from both chambers since last summer, creates guidelines for law enforcement agencies choosing to incorporate body cameras into their departments. Under this proposal, a person depicted in a recording, their family or persons who are victims of a crime may view the specific recorded clip. I am confident that this legislation strikes a balance between transparency and privacy rights.

Overall, these past 10 weeks have been extremely productive and have benefited Hoosiers across the state. The last week was bittersweet, as I said goodbye to many of my colleagues who are retiring from the Indiana House of Representatives. I look forward to spending more time back home with my family and community. As your state representative, my job does not end with session. I am always available to hear your thoughts and opinions. You can contact me at 317-232-9509 or h31@iga.in.gov.  

 

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Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.