Rep. Ziemke: House passes bills to combat Indiana’s drug crisis

Posted by: Zach Weismiller & Emily Messmer  | Tuesday, February 21, 2017 5:00 pm

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 21, 2017) — The Indiana House of Representatives unanimously supported a pair of State Rep. Cindy Ziemke’s (R-Batesville) bills Tuesday to address the state’s growing drug epidemic.

According to a recent report, three in 10 new mothers who gave birth at a hospital located in Richmond last year tested positive for illegal drugs. Co-authored by Ziemke, House Bill 1006 would include neonatal abstinence syndrome as a factor for determining if a child is in need of services. These children would be eligible to receive medication-assisted treatment, which uses a combination of medicine and behavioral therapy to treat addiction.

“There were more than 1,200 drug-related Hoosier deaths in 2015,” Ziemke said. “With heroin and opioid addiction plaguing communities throughout our state, it’s critical that lawmakers find new ways to address this growing mental health crisis. By expanding addiction treatment options, we can ensure Hoosiers who are addicted to drugs have access to the resources and services they need to begin a road to recovery.”

In Indiana, the Recovery Works program provides mental health and addiction treatment services to those currently in the criminal justice system or at risk of being incarcerated. Since it began in 2015, the program has served over 6,000 Hoosiers, helping connect them with addiction treatment providers. In order to continue decreasing the number of offenders who return to prison, this bill would allow the creation of a pilot program to expand coverage to individuals charged only with misdemeanor offenses. Ziemke said connecting these low-level offenders with Recovery Works services earlier on could prevent more serious offenses from occurring.

Additionally, House Bill 1654 would add two members to the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse; one appointed by the governor to serve as vice chair and another from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. Ziemke said bringing all interested parties to the table would ensure the state uses a comprehensive approach to tackle Indiana’s drug epidemic.

These bills now move to the Senate for further consideration.

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State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents all of Fayette County, and
portions of Decatur, Franklin, Ripley and Rush counties.

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