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The 117th session of the Indiana General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die


In the early hours of Saturday, March 10th, the Indiana General Assembly adjourned "Sine Die". "Sine Die" is Latin for "without a day" and when the Indiana General Assembly adjourns Sine Die, it means without assigning another day for a meeting or hearing.

The members--and the lobbyists--of the 2012 Indiana General Assembly were certainly ready for a day without a meeting or hearing. As has been well-documented, the 2012 Session has been a difficult one, with gut-wrenching issues that have caused legislative exhaustion and a desire for an early adjournment.   Even though there were additional days left on the calendar, Leadership had hoped to end the Session on March 9th, but in the end, it went well past midnight and into the next morning. While it has been difficult--and many would say that the Legislature failed to focus on the state's truly critical issues, Mental Health America worked diligently to make significant strides forward. Significant legislation on MHAI's agenda did pass, while Legislators pushed others into Summer Study Committees. There will be much on MHAI's plate in the upcoming Summer Interim.   

The following are highlights for mental health and addiction advocates:


SEA 24, Mental Health and Addiction Issues

Senators Lawson/Simpson and Representatives Noe/C. Brown/T. Brown brought forward SB 24 as recommended by the Indiana Mental Health Commission. This bill makes a number of technical changes to the mental health statute, but most notably would combine what are now the DMHA Advisory Council and the DMHA Block Grant Committee and extend the grandfathering provision for Addiction Counselors. This new Council, the Mental Health and Addiction Planning and Advisory Council, would be initially chaired by MHAI's CEO Steve McCaffrey and would provide DMHA with critical input and expertise from stakeholders important to DMHA. The grandfathering provision for Addiction Counselors was extended to fill the vacuum until a test for licensure is available. The bill passed both Houses and now goes to the Governor. This was a top MHAI priority.


SEA 407, Dispensing of Prescription Drugs

Senator Grooms and Representative Davisson brought forth SB 334 (which was amended into SB 407) regarding prescription drugs. This bill requires, among other things, the study of specialty tier pricing of prescription medications. Some insurance policies place expensive medications for chronic conditions on a "4th tier," where the charge to the patient can be exorbitant, throwing the individual into Medicaid Spend Down or preventing access to the medication altogether. Specialty Tier pricing-- and possible solutions--will be studied by the Health Finance Commission this summer. This was a top MHAI priority.


SEA 1149, Smoking Ban

Representatives Turner and Charlie Brown again offered the Smoking Ban bill. The bill that passed the House was a comprehensive ban with exemptions, including gaming facilities, cigar and hookah bars, tobacco stores, and private clubs if the membership votes to allow smoking. Bars were subject to the ban, but had an 18 month grace period to prepare for the ban. While the bill had passed out of the House several times, it had never before been considered on the floor of the Indiana Senate.   Senators Gard and Alting sponsored the bill in the Senate, where it was gutted on Second Reading. Mental Health facilities were included in the exemptions, which is contrary to MHAI as well as Division of Mental Health and Addiction policy. MHAI worked hard to remove that language-and was successful. The Governor had endorsed the most comprehensive smoking ban possible and MHAI supported a comprehensive ban as well. The bill that emerged from Conference Committee was more similar to the House version, but for an exemption for bars and taverns. The bill passed on a close vote in the Senate. Again, MHAI was in strong support of a comprehensive bill, but supported the bill that passed as a first step forward.


HB 1011, Various Correction Matters

The Pew Initiative was one of the Governor's priorities last year and was, among other things, an effort to make criminal penalties for drug offenses more appropriate as they compare to violent offenses. The savings that would result from these changes would be put into a forensic treatment fund and used for individuals with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders in the criminal justice system.   Representative Foley took pieces of this effort and put them into HB 1011, including the Forensic Treatment Fund. The bill passed out of committee in the Senate, but died as it was recommitted to Appropriations, where funding concerns remained. While parts of HB 1011 were inserted into HB 1200, the fund was not, as this is not a budget session. It is expected that this fund will be reconsidered next year-which is a Budget Session--where the financing issues can be resolved.  


SEA 286, Department of Child Services

Much has been discussed this Session regarding DCS and children's safety. Included in SB 286, brought by Senator Lawson and Representative McNamara, is a study committee on under served youth with mental health issues. This committee will study CHINS filings and the unmet needs of children within the juvenile justice system. This provision was supported by MHAI.  


SEA 15, Medicaid

SB 15 began as a bill on Brain Injury and was amended to include a study of information concerning the feasibility and development of risk-based managed care for the aged, blind, and disabled Medicaid recipients. MHAI will provide input on this important study as it relates to persons with mental illness.


SCR 7, Involuntary Commitment

SCR 7 was brought forth by Senator Vi Simpson and was adopted as A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION urging the Commission on Mental Health and Addiction to examine the issue of involuntary commitment of persons with substance use disorders. This is what has been referred to as the Jennifer Act. MHAI supported the study.  


HR 59, SR 86, Smoking

Representative Tim Brown and Senators Buck/Boots brought forth RESOLUTIONS urging the Legislative Council to create an interim study committee to consider opportunities to reduce the risk of death and disease among smokers who will not quit smoking by considering tobacco harm reduction policies that encourage smokers to switch from cigarettes to less risky tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco.


SR 47, DCS

Senator Vi Simpson brought forth HR 47, A SENATE RESOLUTION urging the Indiana Commission on Mental Health and Addiction to study: 1) how it is determined whether a family and/or child is eligible for services by the Department of Child Services (DCS); 2) the wrap-around services available to families involved in DCS proceedings; 3) the follow-up provided by DCS staff to determine whether services were provided and the adequacy of those services; and 4) the communication between family court and DCS to collaborate on families' involvement in each entity.  


SR 49, Drug Testing

Senator Head brought forth HR 49, A SENATE RESOLUTION urging the legislative council to establish an interim study committee to study the development and establishment of a program to test for the use of controlled substances by an individual who is at least 18 years of age and receives assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for the individual or on behalf of a child.


SR 66, Medicaid Fraud

Senator Hershman brought forth A SENATE RESOLUTION urging the legislative council to assign to the Select Joint Commission on Medicaid Oversight the topic of Medicaid fraud issues.


The upcoming Session will be a Budget Session that will follow a record setting number of retiring legislators, and an election that will change the composition of the body as well. By the time the Indiana General Assembly reconvenes, the body will have changed significantly, as will of course, the inhabitant of the Governor's Office. MHAI will put forth a strong effort throughout these summer legislative study committees, as we begin to move into a new era of government affairs.

Helpful Links and Information:

   Indiana House of Representatives                            Indiana State Senate
200 W. Washington Street                              200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2785                        Indianapolis, IN 46204-2785
(317) 232-9400                                      (317) 232-9600
(800) 382-9467                                              (800) 382-9842

Save the Date!
Friday, June 15, 2012
15th Annual Mental Health Symposium