The Indiana General Assembly can only discuss and pass laws for a few months out of the year, but there are many benefits to having a part-time Legislature. The interim gives legislators more time to connect with our constituents which allows us to better represent our communities during the legislative session.
Although lawmakers are able to spend more time in our communities, attending town halls and local festivals, we continue to work for Hoosiers and prepare for next session throughout the interim by serving on interim study committees. This year, I am honored to serve as the vice chair of the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services. I will also be serving as a member on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males and the Indiana Commission for Women.
The study committee on Public Health, in particular, has a lot of work to do this summer. One of our main focuses will be the needle exchange program as a comprehensive response to reducing disease transmission due to drug use. This comes as a result of the recent HIV epidemic in southeast Indiana. As of June 19, 170 cases have been reported in the area, and there has not yet been a decline.
A needle exchange program was implemented when a public health emergency was declared at the end of March. Due to the severity of the situation, it is important that we study the effectiveness of these types of programs and consider whether or not it is helping the situation in southeast Indiana. There are over 200 programs nationwide, many of which have proven effective in the past, so I hope we will start to see a decline in HIV and Hepatitis C cases in Indiana.
I am also pleased that the Interim Study Committee on Courts and Criminal Code will be studying a few topics that I worked on throughout the 2015 session. Public safety has remained at the front of my mind over the past months, and last session, we were able to find many solutions to the growing concerns about the safety of Hoosiers.
For example, I worked on legislation to reduce instances of sexual abuse, prostitution, human trafficking and child molestation. These issues, unfortunately, impact every community which is why we must tackle them head on. Although I do not serve on this committee, I am confident the members will work hard to find ways to combat these issues and additional strategies for helping victims.
As always, I am excited to work alongside my colleagues during the interim and work toward solutions to very pressing issues facing all Hoosiers. Our work to improve this great state is never complete, and I will continue to serve our community to the best of my ability.
Rep. Kirchhofer represents portions of Perry, Franklin and Warren Townships in Marion County.