Rep. Arnold: A successful session on behalf of Hoosiers

Posted by: Peter Hoffman  | Monday, March 21, 2016

At the onset of this year’s legislative session, we knew it would be a heavy lift as we tackled issues such as road funding and combating Indiana’s drug epidemic. As we closed out our work at the Statehouse, it was clear that Hoosiers in District 74, and across the state can be proud of the progress that was made on their behalf.

On road funding, my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate passed House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001, which 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 one cent already being dedicated to road funding. An additional $328 million would go toward state road and bridge preservation and maintenance over the next two years. 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. By establishing an in-depth summer study committee, HEA 1001 will also serve as an overture to a more long-term funding plan because it lays the groundwork to come back to the table in next year’s session.

I also supported efforts to toughen penalties for drug traffickers, restrict criminals’ access to meth-making materials while also focusing on substance abuse and treatment options.

To keep the worst drug dealers behind bars, HEA 1235 imposes mandatory minimum sentences. This means those dealers convicted of dealing meth or heroin with a prior felony drug dealing conviction would serve at least 10 years.

As the nation’s leading meth lab state for the last three years, Indiana needed to further restrict meth cooks’ access to the drug’s precursors. Pseudoephedrine (PSE), one type of cold and allergy medication, is the key ingredient used in meth. Senate Enrolled Act 80 maintains Hoosiers’ legitimate access to PSE without a prescription, but if a purchaser does not have a relationship with the pharmacy, pharmacists have the option to sell them an extraction-resistant PSE formulation or a smaller package of PSE. If the purchaser refuses those alternative options, they would be required to obtain a prescription. To help keep PSE out of the wrong hands, HEA 1157 makes it illegal for all individuals convicted of a meth-related felony to possess these medications without a prescription. The National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), an electronic tracking system used by pharmacies and law enforcement, would be instructed to issue stop-sale alerts in real time when meth-related felons attempt to purchase PSE without a prescription.

These pieces of legislation now move to the governor’s desk where they could be signed into law.

As always, please contact me with questions or input at (317) 232-9793 or by email at h74@iga.in.gov. I am eager to help and always appreciate hearing from you in order to better represent our district at the Statehouse.

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Rep. Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.