Among the bills Greater Lafayette State House members are pondering in the upcoming Indiana lawmaking session are ones that tackle some pressing health issues facing the state.
State Representative Sheila Klinker (D-Lafayette) says she’s planning to write a bill for the upcoming legislative session that attempts to tackle one of Governor Eric Holcomb’s top priorities: reducing vaping.
Klinker says her legislation will increase taxes on vaping liquids and on the cartridges that deliver the substances to the user. She says the original aim of e-liquids is not being achieved.
“The purpose of vaping, so to speak, in the past was to stop smoking," Klinker says. "But instead our folks are getting addicted to the juices that are in those pipes and we want to stop that.”
CHILD HEARING LOSS
Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session requiring screenings for what she calls the leading cause of child hearing loss.
Campbell, an audiologist, says testing for congenital cytomegalovirus, or CMV, in newborns could help identify potential hearing loss issues from the start.
“That would add an extra layer of us being able to identify those children," Campbell says. "We are still missing children with the hearing screens.”
Campbell also says parents don’t always perform the necessary follow-up when their newborns fail standard hearing tests—and a timely response can impact treatment.
“If we identify a hearing loss and get a hearing aid on that baby before the age of six months, they will most likely develop normal language and speech development.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CMV impacts one out of every 200 children born in the U.S — and one in five of those infected will experience hearing loss.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Campbell also wants to improve paid family and medical leave options for working Hoosiers. Her bill would create a system where workers pay into an employer-matched pool and then draw on it to receive up to six weeks of partially paid leave.
“The time that you have to take off when a loved one is ill in this way can really be devastating," Campbell says. "You want to be with your child, but at the same you need to provide an income to be able to pay for their care.”
Klinker, a former schoolteacher, says she continues to be interested in bill that would again mandate cursive writing in schools. But she says she’s not sure if she’ll use one of the five bills she’s allowed to write as a State Rep for that purpose, or if she’ll have to pick other issues on which to be the primary author.
Klinker has, for several years, written companion legislation to that of Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), who’s been the primary proponent of the cursive bill.
IMMIGRANT ID CARDS
A bill Campbell confirms she’ll author—one discussed with local groups such as Greater Lafayette Immigrant Alliance and the Lafayette Urban Ministry Immigration Clinic—proposes issuing identification cards to undocumented residents that would allow drivers to prove they’d passed necessary exams and are properly insured. Campbell says she’d want the program to be modeled after one launched in South Bend in 2016.
“That would definitely help our immigration population, and make roads safer for everyone,” she says.
Other Campbell proposals include a repeal of a rule that doesn’t allow Indiana’s municipalities to make their own decisions about banning single-use plastic bags, and what she calls a “week-long tax holiday” for families purchasing school supplies.
Klinker, first elected in 1982, is currently the second-longest serving member of the Indiana House behind former House Speaker Pat Bauer (D-South Bend). Campbell is entering her second year in office.