Good Legislation: A Product of Good Discussion by Gail Riecken


Good Legislation: A Product of Good Discussion

by Gail Riecken

This may seem a little tedious but I didn’t know how to access the information below before I was on the legislature. I would be lost without this information now and hope it is helpful to you, too.

Summer is the time our legislature holds Interim Study Committee meetings to discuss issues more in depth than is possible during Session.  These meetings are an opportunity for legislators to learn and exchange ideas and positions but also for you to have input into the discussions.

To learn what is being discussed, go to; then go to interim committees; select your topic of interest.

For a complete list of the approved discussion topics: .

For an up-to-date interim committee calendar: . Check it often. It changes.

These meetings are streamed. Here is a snippet of the exciting discussions that will go on for a couple of months.

On August 23, 1:00 EST the Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services Committee meets.

This committee is scheduled to discuss the INSPECT program and what improvements might be needed.

The program is a data base requiring 24-hour reporting, providing nearly real-time data to practitioners who are required to log in controlled substances a patient has been prescribed and the dispensing pharmacy where the patient obtained them. The goal is to address the problem of prescription drug abuse in Indiana.

Senator Vaneta Becker is on this Interim Committee. She would welcome any comments. to submit a comment.

It goes without saying we have a drug abuse crisis in the US today and Indiana has not been left out. Opioids and prescription drug abuse has been a topic of legislative action for several years. Just this past session SEA 226 was adopted placing restrictions on the prescribing and dispensing of opioids to seven days with certain exceptions.

On August 30, 10:00 EST the Elections Interim Committee meets.

This committee is scheduled to discuss how “policy changes to Indiana election law have affected voting in Indiana from 2000 through 2016 regarding voter participation and election results.”

Issues such as redistricting, adoption of a computerized statewide voter registration system, affidavit added to state voter registration forms, reduction of absentee voting days and hours, adoption of vote centers, precinct consolidations, elimination of bipartisan boards of voter registration, elimination of satellite voting locations, elimination of Election Day voting locations and photo IDs are mentioned in the law as possible topics.

Representative Ryan Hatfield is on this Interim Committee. He would welcome any comments.

What can I say. I am reallly worried we will see more barriers for qualified voters to get to the polls.

On September 6, 10:00 EST the Government Interim Committee meets. Also, this Committee is already scheduled for October 4, 10:00 EST.

This committee will discuss Food Deserts, an issue promoted passionately by Rep Robin Shackleford. This is a program that addresses the issue of not having access to grocery stores in areas of our state, principally, inner urban areas, but also affecting rural areas of Indiana.

Rep Shackleford is on the Committee and she and Rep Vanessa Summers would welcome any comments.

The problem of healthy food choice opportunities is the core of the issue. Should groceries be incentivized through tax credits or state grants to get them to commit to these areas of concern? Will subsidizing groceries solve the problem? Is this a problem in Evansville? If so, advocates should speak out. This is not the first year there has been legislation to support the idea and representatives/senators need your active advocacy.

Contact a legislator! Hearing from local constituents means there is a better chance of legislation really reflecting our needs in Evansville.

The legislature needs our advocacy. At least that is my view from the outside.

Gail Riecken,

Former State Representative, District 77


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