Gov. Holcomb wants harsher punishment for overdose deaths, better treatment for addicted infants

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb wants to fight the drug epidemic in the state by enforcing harsher punishments for drug-induced homicides and creating better treatment plans for addicted newborns. 

The governor released his five-pillar 2018 Next Level Agenda on Wednesday, which includes an "Attack the Drug Epidemic" plan that would increase the number of opioid treatment centers available to addicted Hoosiers while enforcing stricter penalties and punishments for those who manufacture the drugs. 

The plan also focuses on fighting the problem by making physicians regularly check the state's prescription drug monitoring program before issuing certain prescriptions. 

The six main goals of Gov. Holcomb's "Attack the Drug Epidemic" plan are: 

  • Strengthen enforcement efforts by establishing a felony charge for drug-induced homicide and felony murder charges for those who illicitly manufacture drugs that result in drug-induced death. 
  • Improve health outcomes by requiring physicians to check the state's prescription drug monitoring program, INSPECT, before issuing first prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines. 
  • Improve the state's reporting of drug overdose deaths to increase consistency and knowledge about the scale of the problem. 
  • Increase the number of FSSA-approved opioid treatment locations so Hoosiers have better access to treatment. 
  • Increase drug treatment options by initiating a state referral process that links patients directly to available inpatient and residential treatment. 
  • Lower the infant mortality rate by implementing Levels of care certification for perinatal programs at hospitals and birthing centers to ensure that babies are born at a facility with a level of care that matches their risk. 

Another important issue tackled in Gov. Holcomb's 2018 agenda is the creation of high-paying jobs for Hoosiers. 

The governor celebrated a record-breaking year for jobs in Indiana on Wednesday while focusing on what can be done better moving forward. 

Gov. Holcomb says the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has secured 270 business commitments to help create 28,846 new positions in the state with an average hourly rate of $27.38, more than 27 percent higher than the state's current average wage. 

“With nearly 29,000 new jobs announced this year and one million expected over the next decade, we must act now to ensure Hoosiers have the skills they need to secure good jobs and succeed in our growing economy,” Gov. Holcomb said. “In 2018, I will remain sharply focused on building our workforce and other key issues that affect Hoosiers most—jobs, economic growth, health, infrastructure, and government service. I look forward to working closely with state lawmakers and other stakeholders in the year ahead to advance this plan.”

Senate Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) released a statement Wednesday supporting Gov. Holcomb’s 2018 agenda.

“I applaud the governor for bringing an aggressive and well-thought-out agenda to the table. The Senate continues to believe that workforce development is a critical issue for our state, and the governor’s agenda reflects that priority. Senate Republicans will be announcing our own agenda prior to session, and we look forward to working with the governor and our colleagues in the House of Representatives to continue to improve the lives of all Hoosiers.”

Watch Gov. Holcomb's announcement below.

The below summary released by the governor’s office outlines the five pillars of his 2018 Next Level Agenda.  

  1. Cultivate a strong and diverse economy.

To continue cultivating a strong and diverse economy, Gov. Holcomb’s 2018 agenda focuses on attracting new talent, supporting our growing tech sector, preparing for next generation technologies and opportunities, and encouraging sustainable regional development.

  1. Maintain and build the state’s infrastructure.

After advancing an historic long-term road funding plan in 2017, Gov. Holcomb’s 2018 agenda focuses on better managing the state’s water resources, expanding our global economic presence with a fourth port, and improving broadband access, speed and affordability where it’s needed most.

  1. Develop a 21st Century skilled and ready workforce.

The 2018 action items outlined in Gov. Holcomb’s education and workforce plan were created with three guiding principles in mind:

  • Provide every Hoosier child an effective baseline education infused with skills and attributes that prepare them for life after high school.
  • Ensure students graduate from high school set on a pathway that prepares them for college, career training or a quality job.
  • Connect working-age adults to education and training that leads them directly to employment aligned with industry needs.

To accomplish these goals, the state will build the framework for the new system through the Governor’s Education to Career Pathway Cabinet, enabling plans, resources and operations to be locally determined and managed.

  1. Attack the Drug Epidemic.

Gov. Holcomb’s agenda continues Indiana’s attack on the opioid epidemic by strengthening enforcement, expanding recovery options and making it easier for Hoosiers to locate and access treatment. Additionally, the 2018 Next Level Agenda calls for improved reporting and monitoring as well as a stronger focus on programs that help reduce infant mortality rates in our state.

  1. Deliver Great Government Service.

Great government service remains the cornerstone of Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda. With that in mind, Indiana will continue its history of strong financial management and maintain healthy reserves in 2018. The agenda also calls for a new parental leave policy for state employees, streamlined and simplified processes for citizens to interact with state government, and better outcomes from large-scale IT projects to improve state government service.

Finally, in response to a request from some civically engaged elementary school students, Gov. Holcomb’s agenda calls for state leaders to work with students around the state to adopt the Say’s Firefly as the state’s insect.

As part of his 2018 Next Level Agenda tour this week, the governor will also visit Lafayette, Sellersburg, Jasper, Fort Wayne and Elkhart.

You can read Governor Holcomb’s full 2018 Next Level Agenda online at at or below. 




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