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New bills praised by Zoeller

Legislation aims at reducing addictions, unwanted calls

Zoeller

– Attorney General Greg Zoeller on Tuesday highlighted a number of consumer protection bills passed by the legislature, including some aimed at reducing prescription addiction and unwanted home telephone calls.

“Before session, my office had recommended several proposals for new laws that would help improve the health and safety of Hoosiers by strengthening existing law and addressing some problems that plague consumers,” he said. “To their credit, legislators of both parties and both houses worked collaboratively to pass these bills.”

Some of the bills are still awaiting the governor’s signature.

Two of the issues are related to recommendations from the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force co-chaired by Zoeller.

House Enrolled Act 1360 addresses Indiana’s shortage of mental health professionals and addiction treatment professionals. It offers up to five years of student loan forgiveness grants to psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, addiction counselors and mental health professionals who are pursuing addiction training in behavioral health and addiction psychiatry. The professionals must practice in Indiana.

“This is a bill that is going to pay dividends in Indiana for many years to come,” said Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, who worked on the legislation.

A second bill addresses neonatal abstinence syndrome, in which newborns exposed to prescription or illegal drugs while in the womb suffer from withdrawal symptoms including respiratory complications, low birth weight, feeding difficulties and seizures.

Senate Enrolled Act 408 directs the Indiana State Department of Health to develop recommendations regarding diagnosis, screening and reporting of statistics on the syndrome. The department also can establish pilot programs with hospitals to put recommendations into practice.

“The first step is a more comprehensive understanding of the scope of this issue,” said Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis. “When stakeholders have the right information, we can help mothers deliver healthier babies and save taxpayer dollars in the long run.”

One other topic addressed was Indiana’s telephone privacy law.

More than 2.3 million Hoosiers are on Indiana’s Do Not Call list, which shields them from unwanted telemarketing calls.

Senate Enrolled Act 349 targets companies using a third-party business to generate unwanted robocalls. The bill clarifies state statute to prohibit the practice, making companies that make the calls subject to civil penalties.

nkelly@jg.net

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