State Government and Legislation and Government & Economic Development and Government

Statehouse roundup: Drug testing, metro areas, abortion insurance, more

March 5, 2014

State lawmakers on Tuesday advanced legislation on drug-testing for welfare recipients, metro-area promotion, abortion insurance, hearing aids, teacher preparation and cardiac care precautions. Here's a rundown.

Drug testing

A bill that would require drug testing for Hoosiers who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and who have been convicted of a crime passed the Senate.

House Bill 1351 would not take away TANF benefits immediately after recipients tested positive as long as they tested negative two times in a row after that.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, said the bill gives a person a chance to get clean from the drug or substance they are abusing.
If a person who tests positive a second time could lose the benefit for four months, but the benefits would be reinstated after four months if the recipient tested negative.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said the program would be too expensive and is “destined to have a Constitutional challenge.”

Young argued the bill would help children in households receiving TANF and the intent is intended to harm anyone.

HB 1352 passed the Senate 34-14 and heads back to the House.

Boosting metro areas

A bill meant to find ways to help the state’s regional metropolitan areas is headed to Gov. Mike Pence to be signed into law.

House Bill 1035 passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday.

The bill requires the Indiana Economic Corp. to complete a study by Oct. 1 to determine how to make metropolitan areas – including Fort Wayne, Evansville, South Bend and others – more attractive places to live and work.

HB1035 will assess the economic potential of Indiana metropolitan areas by identifying the regions’ strengths and drivers of growth.

The bill will also recommend quality-of-life improvements and come up with financing options driven primarily by private investments and a mix of local and state funding.

Abortion coverage

A bill to ban insurance coverage for abortions is on its way back to the House after it passed the Senate 37-10 on Tuesday.

Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, the bill sponsor, said House Bill 1123 aligned Indiana with one of the provisions under the Affordable Healthcare Act otherwise known as ObamaCare.

HB 1123 would prohibit insurance companies from covering abortions, unless there is a specific circumstance, such as in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. It would include all insurance companies, such as state employee health plans, private policies and student health policies.

The bill does allow for abortion coverage if the consumer opts to pay for it separately as an add-on through a rider or endorsement.

Teacher prep programs

Legislation that makes changes to teacher-education preparation programs passed the Indiana Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, authored by Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, requires the Department of Education to establish standards for the continuous improvement of the teaching programs and the performance of individuals who complete them by July 1, 2015.

It also makes changes to the information a teacher-education preparation program must submit to the Department of Education, including an annual survey to be completed by the principal of a school after teachers have been hired.

The bill passed the Senate 43-4 and moves back to the House with amendments for further consideration.

Cardiac arrest in athletes

Coaches would be required to remove student athletes from play if they showed any signs of cardiac arrest under legislation that passed the Senate on Tuesday.
House Bill 1290 would require a health care provider to approve the player’s return to a game or practice. The bill also adds athletic trainers to the list of health care providers who can make that call.

The bill, authored by Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, establishes various protocols for the prevention of and response to cardiac arrest among school-aged student athletes, along with new changes to the role of athletic trainers within the state.
The bill passed 43-5 and goes to Gov. Mike Pence for ratification.

One of the bill’s provisions requires the Department of Education to provide to coaches, student athletes, and parents and guardians of student athletes with information regarding the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Another provision of the bill requires CPR training and defibrillator training to be added to a high school’s health education curriculum.

The legislation passed the Senate 47-0 and moves back to the House for further consideration.

Hearing aid services

A bill that would prevent non-licensed people from selling, leasing, or renting hearing aids in Indiana – unless the aid has been fitted and adjusted by a hearing aid dealer or audiologist – passed the Senate on Tuesday.

House Bill 1139, sponsored by Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, deals with the study of the number of children who are deaf or hearing impaired, the estimated cost for a state program, as well as the health insurance requirements to provide hearing aids to minors.

The bill doesn’t require insurance companies to cover the cost of getting the hearing aid for a child, but it does require a study of potential coverage for minors who have hearing problems.
 

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