Rep. Ziemke: Looking back on a successful legislative session

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, March 18, 2016

The 2016 legislative session has come to a close, and lawmakers have returned home to their districts. We were able to make significant progress on some of the most critical issues facing Indiana, including state and local road funding and the illegal drug epidemic impacting many of our communities.

This session, lawmakers reached a compromise that will address our immediate road funding needs, while also ensuring that we return next year to discuss a more comprehensive, long-term plan. House Enrolled Act 1001 directs $186 million upfront to a local road and bridge matching grant account. The legislation 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. About $328 million would go toward state road and bridge preservation and maintenance over the next two years. It also creates a task force, which will conduct a deep-dive study this summer into state and local road funding needs and options. Under Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 67, 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.

In addition, we passed legislation aimed at combating the drug epidemic throughout Indiana. I co-sponsored SEA 187, which allows naloxone, or Narcan, to be sold over the counter at pharmacies. Narcan is a safe, non-addictive medication that reverses the effects of drug overdoses and helps keep an individual breathing normally. Since family members, friends and other loved ones are often the first to respond in the event of an overdose, it is important that Narcan is easily accessible to them. I also supported SEA 271 to establish the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse to address drug abuse at both the state and local level.

In my last column, I discussed the importance of Indiana’s Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0, which provides quality and affordable health care to low-income and Medicaid-eligible individuals. To make sure HIP 2.0 will always be available to Indiana residents, the General Assembly passed SEA 165 to enact it in law. This will protect the more than 370,000 Hoosiers already participating in the program and those who choose to enroll in the future. The enrolled act also requires the Family and Social Services Administration to annually submit an actuarial analysis of HIP 2.0 to demonstrate that sufficient funding is available to operate the program.

Although the legislative session has ended, my work to support our community will continue. I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts and opinions regarding these enrolled acts or other issues affecting southeast Indiana. I can be reached at 317-232-9815 or h55@iga.in.gov.

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 State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties. She serves as Vice Chair of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Courts and Criminal Code Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction.