INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator Jean D. Breaux (D-Indianapolis) proposed a number of bills during the legislative session that were approved by the General Assembly and are expected to be signed into law by the governor. Most new laws become effective July 1, 2015. Sen. Breaux’s legislation focused on improvements to the local judicial system in Marion County, eliminating blighted housing and improving the state’s new energy efficiency program.

Marion County township courts

Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 523, co-authored by Sen. Breaux, will improve Marion County’s local judicial system by enhancing the role of the Small Claims Courts. The act will lift the small claims jurisdictional amount from $6,000 to $8,000, keep the current Marion County Small Claims Court structure, but allow the judges to become full-time by 2017. Finally, the law would allow for the transfer of funds between courts to assist courts in Decatur and Franklin townships that are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Vacant and abandoned houses

Championed by Sen. Breaux, SEA 415 addresses the issue of blighted or vacant property that continues to strap local communities around the state. The law aims to provide a quicker process at the local level to get abandoned or vacant homes, around 10,000 in Marion County, rehabilitated and occupied by streamlining the tax deduction and tax sale processes.

Integrated resource plans and energy efficiency

After abolishing the state’s Energize Indiana energy efficiency program last year, legislators sought to establish a new program to promote energy efficiency. Sen. Breaux argued that SEA 412 is too friendly to utility companies, allowing them to dictate their own efficiency goals and programs every three years. The act, Sen. Breaux argued, also allows utilities the ability to recover millions of dollars through rate increases on individuals to make up the money lost through less consumption, effectively negating the savings individuals should see through participation. The act exempts large industrial and commercial customers from participating in efficiency programs, passing additional financial burden on to individual ratepayers. Critics, including Sen. Breaux, argued that the new energy efficiency law does not, in practice, promote participation in energy efficiency programs due to additional burdens being placed on ratepayers.

Overdose intervention drugs

An emergency medical professional, firefighter, law enforcement officer or paramedic will be allowed to dispense, write a prescription for, or prepare a standing order for an overdose intervention drug under SEA 406. The act also allows other individuals in a position to assist another person at risk of an opioid-related overdose to be provided civil immunity to obtain and administer an overdose intervention drug.

Use of investigational drugs, biological products, and devices

Sen. Breaux sponsored House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1065 to allow a terminally ill patient to use a drug that has gone through the first stage of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process, as long as the patient obtains approval from their doctor and the drug manufacturer. The U.S. FDA typically has three stages of testing before a drug is approved to be sold. Also known as “Right to Try”, HEA 1065 allows for this experimental or nonconventional medical treatment if a physician determines that a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal disease or condition and does not have comparable or satisfactory treatment options.

Sen. Breaux represents Indiana Senate District 34 which includes the near eastside of Indianapolis including portions of Center, Washington, Lawrence and Warren Townships. For more information on Sen. Breaux’s legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S34.

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