Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 02, 2018 1:00 am

General Assembly

Bill to look into patient's Rx history advances

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana House unanimously approved a measure Thursday to require doctors to check a patient's prescription history before prescribing some addictive medications.

“Indiana's got a problem. I think we all know that,” Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said of the opioid epidemic.

He said right now lawmakers are reacting to drug dealers and addicts to close loopholes and Senate Bill 221 is the latest way to halt Hoosiers from feeding their addiction or lining their pockets.

It would require hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors to check the state's prescription monitoring system before writing a prescription. He said the only downfall of the bill is the phase-in, which starts next year and ends in 2021.

“Today we need to stop these folks from getting prescriptions and contributing to the drug problem in the state,” Smaltz said.

The legislation was changed in committee so the Senate must accept the bill or send it for final negotiation.

TIF district for GE campus advances

The Senate on Thursday voted 47-1 to approved language that could aid the massive General Electric Co. campus project.

It is one small component of a 171-page tax bill that now goes to conference committee for final negotiation. 

The bill would allow the City Council to establish a 35-year tax-increment financing district around the campus, which has been renamed Electric Works. Initially the bill was for 50 years but a Senate committee reduced it.

A TIF district requires that all new property tax revenue generated in the district be used to pay for infrastructure projects only within that district. GE's campus project will need road, sidewalk and other improvements. 

The ambitious $300 million project aims to transform the shuttered 39-acre GE campus into a retail, residential, commercial and educational center. Construction is scheduled to begin this year with the first portions opening in about two years.

The TIF district is just one of many parts of an overall financial package for developers.

Armstrong tweak on to full Senate

The Senate accepted an amendment to legislation Thursday that will allow Allen County Councilman Bob Armstrong to finish his elected term even though he's now a county employee.

There was no debate on the language, which was added to House Bill 1233.

Late last year, Allen County commissioners voted to dissolve the independent Solid Waste Management District where the 58-year-old Armstrong has worked for 10 years, bringing the district under the county's umbrella.

A change to state law allowed counties to make such a change.

That means that Armstrong will be bound by a separate state statute stipulating that public employees can't serve on elected boards that determine their departments' budgets.

But lawmakers in the past allowed other employees to finish out their terms and are giving Armstrong the same deal.

He says he is not running again in 2020.

The bill now moves to the full Senate.

Bill would cover education deficit

A shortfall in education funding would be covered under a bill passed unanimously by the House Thursday.

Senate Bill 189 would transfer up to $100 million in the next two years in funding for K-12 schools. Thousands more kids enrolled in public school than an initial estimate – causing the need for the change.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for final approval.