Lawmakers head back to capital, preview at what’s to come

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INDIANA (WEHT)– Indiana lawmakers are heading back to the statehouse to begin the 2020 General Assembly Session. Monday is the first meeting. As they get back in their seats for the first time this year, some big topics will be on the table.

A couple of them: education and marijuana.

“We’ve been pushed again a lot about marijuana. With medical marijuana, because the surrounding states have legalized it. So they’re concerned and we’re concerned about that also but no one that I’ve talked to has the appetite to legalize marijuana,” State Rep. Ron Bacon says. “It’s an illegal substance, it’s hard for us to do with the federal government keeping it as an illegal substance.”

Since other bordering states have made it legal Indiana will have some things to look at.

“Decriminalizing it? Yes, I think we’re going to be looking very heavily on that,” Bacon explains.

“There’s kind of a loophole that we’re going to have to fix in Indiana because in Indiana if you’re found to have any marijuana in your system what so ever that’s an automatic DUI. Depending on how long it’s been, say you smoked it a month ago, it could still be in your system that would make you a felon in Indiana,” State Rep. Wendy McNamara says.

On the education side, one of the bills State Representative Wendy McNamara is focusing on doesn’t have to do with grades.

“Major bill that I’m going to be carrying is on mental health. For the past three years I’ve been caring all the school safety legislation for the state,” McNamara explains.

She says as an educator she has seen the need for mental health services in schools.

“A lot of our students today suffer from depression, thoughts of suicide. We are always, usually, the first in line of that conversation. Students will typically tell us first before they will tell a family member.”

And goes on to explain what the bill would require.

“It’ll require the FSSA, Family Social Service Administration, to partner with school corporations across the state to provide guidance and support for mental health for kids, teachers, and administrators.”

Lawmakers say this session should be relatively short.

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(This story was originally published on January 5, 2020)

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