INDIANAPOLIS -State Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) proposed several bills during the recently adjourned legislative session that were approved and signed into law by the governor. Among her legislative initiatives this session were bills aimed at improving the state's health services and helping Hoosiers struggling in the rough economic climate.
Senate Enrolled Act 15, authored by Sen. Breaux, requires the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and the Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services (FSSA) to study current brain injury services that are offered in Indiana, determine whether there are deficiencies in the services, and determine how to implement additional services and neurobehavioral rehabilitation programs in Indiana. The act also establishes an advisory committee to assist the ISDH and the FSSA in the study, and requires these groups to report to the Health Finance Commission before October 1, 2012 regarding information about Indiana's services and the feasibility and development of a risk-based managed care pilot program for aged, blind, and disabled Medicaid recipients.
SEA 52, co-authored by Sen. Breaux, allows a physician to test an individual for HIV if certain conditions are met unless the individual to be tested refuses to consent to the test. Certain circumstances allow a physician to order such a test without informing the patient or despite the individual's refusal of the test. This changes current law, which prohibits a physician from performing the test without the oral or written consent of the individual. The act also requires the physician to notify the patient of the test results and to discuss the availability of counseling, treatment and referral options.
Home energy costs will be more affordable for low-income families under HEA 1141, co-sponsored by Sen. Breaux. The legislation dedicates $28.8 million in mortgage foreclosure settlement funds to aid families who rely on assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to pay for high heating and air-conditioning bills. LIHEAP is a federal block grant program that offers financial assistance to qualifying low-income households who require support in paying their home energy bills. The program is administered through local community action agencies. Program funding comes from $145 million that Indiana received from the multi-state legal settlement concerning mortgage foreclosure issues.
HEA 1249, sponsored by Sen. Breaux, addresses the overload of foreclosed and abandoned homes in Indiana by urging the establishment of an interim study committee to discuss improvements that could be made to the state's current land bank statute. The new law urges legislators to determine the use and effectiveness of the statute and to discuss a number of issues including the creation of land banks at the municipal level as opposed to the county level; the implications that land banks would have for Indiana's current tax sale process; and the effect of Indiana's current tax sale process on the disposition of vacant and abandoned property. The committee would discuss how to implement practices by which these homes could be returned to the marketplace in a timelier manner, increasing the quality of neighborhoods and providing people with more options for safe and affordable housing. It would also address problems unique to Marion County, which has witnessed a large increase in the number of properties being acquired through tax delinquency and abandonment. The committee's recommendations will produce legislative initiatives to push forward in the 2013 legislative session.
Most new laws will become effective July 1, 2012. This is only a sample of Sen. Breaux's legislation set to become law. For a complete list, click here.
For more information on Senator Breaux, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov.
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