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General Assembly

County government study bill OK’d

Allen specificity removed in House

– A bill to study possible changes to the structure of county government around the state passed the House 71-26 Monday.

Senate Bill 475 previously would have authorized the Allen County commissioners to move to a single county executive system – similar to a mayor – if county residents approved in a referendum. Changes also would have been made to the County Council.

But confusion over where Allen County officials stood on the legislation and fears that the bill would be expanded to other counties stopped the bill in the House. Now it is simply a summer study committee.

Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, congratulated the Allen County legislators carrying the bill for “restraint,” saying sometimes it’s better to wait another year or sometimes another decade when talking about governmental changes.

Locally, the only two representatives to vote against the bill were Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, and Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola.

The Senate still must vote to accept the altered bill, but author Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, supports that move.

Veterans get edge on state contracts

Veterans owning a small business in the state would receive a 15 percent price preference in contracts with the state under a bill that passed unanimously Monday.

Senate Bill 564 now goes to Gov. Mike Pence for his approval. It is one of his legislative priorities this session.

The goal of the bill is for Indiana to send 3 percent of its contracts to veteran-owned small businesses.

Rep. Jim Baird, R-Greencastle, said Monday there are thousands of veteran businesses in the state.

New regulations sought on pain clinic medication

The Indiana House voted unanimously Monday to target prescription-controlled substances.

Senate Bill 246 heads back to the Senate to see whether the chamber approves slight changes the House made to the bill.

The legislation is an attempt to further regulate doctors or clinics relying heavily on controlled substances, such as a pain clinic.

The bill gives the state Attorney General’s Office more powers in investigating and prosecuting medical workers in the field and requires the Indiana Medical Licensing Board to adopt standards and protocols for prescribing controlled substances, including pain management care.

Just last week, the board found a Fort Wayne pain doctor guilty of three counts when it came to operating his pain clinic and treating patients. He was placed on probation for two years.

He could have received much worse, including suspension or revocation of his license.