Continued progress on a smorgasbord of bills
It has been another productive week at the Statehouse. Much progress has been made on a wide variety of issues, and we are working diligently to finish up all of our business before the end of session on April 29.
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation, and Veteran Affairs approved a resolution I authored urging the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to rename part of Interstate 164 for Mark Shepherdson, the INDOT worker who was killed by a vehicle while working on I-164 in Evansville. Mark was devoted to his job and stands as a reminder of the risks that our INDOT workers take to keep our infrastructure safe for the rest of us. By renaming a section of I-164 after him, we can increase awareness of the dangers and hopefully encourage drivers to drive extra carefully when driving through construction zones.
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Public Health added an amendment to Senate Bill 461 that would prohibit any state agency from adopting any part of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the Healthcare Reform Act or Obamacare. This will be an interesting bill to watch, as the adoption of the amendment coincides with the lawsuit that Indiana signed onto stating that the Federal Health Care Act was unconstitutional. The judge ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to require citizens to purchase insurance, and the amendment is simply reflecting that ruling. SB 461 will soon be headed to the House floor for discussion.
Last Thursday, the House approved a bill that deals with breast cancer screening and various abortion matters. House Bill 1210 prohibits an abortion after 20 weeks and requires physicians to inform a pregnant woman that the fetus may feel pain during an abortion. It also requires that a pregnant woman seeking an abortion must see an ultrasound image of the child before the procedure unless she submits in writing that she does not want to see it. The bill states that the physician who performs an abortion must have admitting privileges at a hospital in the county where the abortion is performed. HB 1210 is very important for women across the state.
Finally, on Friday we approved a Senate Bill I am sponsoring that, under certain circumstances, would allow Indiana hospitals to appoint members to the board that are not residents of the county that the hospital is in. The hospital board would be able to submit a list of one to three candidates for a vacancy on the board, and those candidates would then be evaluated by the county commissioners based on a list of qualifications prepared by the board. Currently, board members must reside in the county where the hospital is located, but there may be a shortage of qualified candidates in the county. This bill opens up the pool of qualified candidates so that hospitals will be able to make sure that their board consists of the most qualified members. I want to note that this does not change the current system where a hospital board submits candidates to the county commission. The county commission will still select the candidates; this bill simply increases the pool of candidates that the hospital board can choose from.
We're continuing to make great progress in our work, but there is still much to be done. We have many more important bills that will be heard and discussed next week, so I encourage you all to continue providing me with the valuable feedback you have been giving me throughout the session. Have a great week and enjoy the great spring weather that has finally arrived.
Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler)