Jim Merritt

Underage Drinking Law Gets Social Media Relaunch

Aug 17, 2015
Maria Elena / https://www.flickr.com/photos/melenita/9386166498/

Indiana’s Lifeline Law allows underage Hoosiers to call the police without fear of getting into trouble for drinking if they see someone that is the victim of a crime or needs medical attention.

The law’s author, State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), is renewing a social media campaign that aims to teach students about the law. he says this is the first year that campaign will emphasize that the law also applies if students are trying to help a victim of sexual assault.

Caro Wallis / https://www.flickr.com/photos/carowallis1/

Indiana is struggling to keep so-called "synthetic drugs" off store shelves, but legislators don‘t expect any similar challenges with another banned substance soon to hit the market.

An Arizona company plans to begin selling powdered alcohol, or palcohol, this summer.

Indiana joined 11 other states this year in banning it.

Three more have imposed temporary bans.

Indianapolis Senator Jim Merritt authored both that law and Indiana‘s ban on drugs such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana, or Spice.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

A new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court may complicate Indiana’s plans to eliminate bath salts. Indiana allows the Board of Pharmacy to ban new compounds for the drug on short notice to keep up with changing formulas, but the Supreme Court decision may strike that law.

The Court unanimously voted not to convict a Virginia man for dealing bath salts after ruling prosecutors must prove he knew the chemical compound he dealt and knew it was illegal to distribute them.

Free-for-all Could Ensue For Coats' Senate Seat

Jun 1, 2015
courtesy Dan Coats

The field for the seat of the retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) may not be complete yet. Former Coats and Mitch Daniels chief of staff Eric Holcomb and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd) are already seeking the Republican nomination. But Rep. Todd Young (R-9th) hasn‘t ruled it out, and says he‘s laying groundwork in case he decides to take the plunge.

"In due time we will make known my family’s decision, my own decision… It should be soon enough," Young says.

zamboni-man / https://www.flickr.com/photos/42030424@N08/

Two local law enforcement agencies are joining police departments across the nation in equipping officers with an antidote to heroin overdoses.

But not everyone agrees allowing police to administer Narcan is the best response to an increase in heroin use.

West Lafayette Police Chief Jason Dombkowski says heroin wasn’t really on the department’s radar until February. That’s when a Purdue student died from a heroin overdose. And while the incident occurred in Lafayette, Dombkowski realized the department needed to be better prepared to address drug use.

Flickr Creative Commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/intropin/4499124890

When Justin Phillips lost her son Aaron to a heroin overdose in October of 2013, she didn’t know there was a drug that could have saved his life. Now, she’s a passionate advocate of making naloxone available to people like her. At a recent Indiana House committee meeting, she told lawmakers that she doesn’t want other parents to go through what she did.

“Aaron was a brother, a friend, a talented quarterback, and an adolescent without a fully-formed decision-making center in his brain,” she said. “Aaron only used heroin for four short months. And he really wanted to quit.”

Elliott Bledsoe / https://www.flickr.com/photos/elliottbledsoe/

The Senate has unanimously endorsed a first step toward creating "baby boxes" for abandoned newborns.

Since 2000, Indiana has had a "safe haven" law allowing babies to be dropped off anonymously at hospitals or fire stations. A House bill would go a step further and allow the installation of incubator dropboxes.

Rep. Casey Cox (R-Fort Wayne) says there have been cases in which parents don‘t trust the promise of anonymity and abandon infants in parks or trash bins -- exactly the scenario the safe haven law was intended to prevent.

Energy Efficiency Bill Awaits Gov's Signature

Apr 8, 2015
Richard Rutter / https://www.flickr.com/photos/clagnut/

An energy efficiency plan requested by Governor Pence is on its way to his desk.

The Senate has given final approval to a bill requiring electric utilities to submit conservation plans to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission every three years.

Senate Utilities Chairman Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says by going through the IURC instead of an outside agency, the plan will be cheaper than the Energize Indiana plan implemented by former Governor Mitch Daniels – a program that was repealed by the legislature last year.

Crisis Intervention Training Bill Passes House

Apr 7, 2015
Steve Baker / https://www.flickr.com/photos/littlebiglens

  Law enforcement crisis training is closer to becoming a statewide requirement now that the House has passed a bill advising more funding for it.

Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) says there isn’t currently enough training teaching police how to handle a crisis, such as a mental health issue or a diabetic attack. Stoops says the bill would make law enforcement communication safer and more effective.

“Treatment typically costs about a dollar for every six dollars we would’ve spent on incarceration. So it’s a very cost-effective approach as well,” Stoops says.

courtesy Christina Hale

The feeding frenzy sure to follow the announcement of a U.S. Senate seat coming open in Indiana commenced in earnest Wednesday, with a bevy of current and former politicians saying they’re considering trying to replace Dan Coats (R-IN).

Rep. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), who toyed with running for Indy mayor before deciding against it, now says he thinks his platform may be better suited for an even higher office.

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