Holcomb Issues 2018 Legislative Wish List; Says Fourth Port Is Discussed “Every Single Day”
By Mike Perleberg
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announces his agenda for the upcoming legislative session at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said discussions are continuing about a potential port on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg.
Holcomb made the mention during an announcement of his 2018 legislative agenda at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis on Wednesday. The governor said he and State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) discuss pursuits of the Fourth Port in Dearborn County “every single day.”
“We’re going to keep our eye on that as we continue to do our due diligence to add a fourth port in our portfolio,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb laid out the five pillars of his NextLevel 2018 agenda: a diverse economy, the state’s infrastructure, a skilled workforce, tackling the opioid drug epidemic, and government service.
Indiana needs to continue to focus on education initiatives that prepare students for today’s workforce, and help adults train for skills needed now, he urged.
“We know where there are 92,000 unfilled jobs. These are high-wage, high-demand jobs. We’ve got to fill them and we’ve got to fill them like yesterday,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb says state officials are continuing to fight the drug epidemic with every resource available. The agenda includes increasing access to drug treatment programs across the state and enabling health providers to get those struggling with addiction into treatment more quickly.
In a proposal backed by the Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys, he asked lawmakers to further deincentivize drug dealing activity by establishing a felony charge for drug-induced homicide and a felony murder charge for those who illegally manufacture drugs that result in a drug-induced death. He also wants to require physicians to check the state’s prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing medications.
He did shoot down a proposal to legalize medical marijuana that was backed by Republican State Rep. Jim Lucas and some military veterans.
“I’m trying to get drugs off the street, not add more,” Holcomb said.
Legislative leaders weighed in on Holcomb’s “marching orders”. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) echoed the governor’s call for strengthening the workforce pipeline.
“The governor has put forth a bold agenda, and we look forward to working with him on workforce and other critical issues facing our state and finding the best solutions for all Hoosiers,” said Bosma.
House Democratic leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) said his party shares many of the same goals listed by Holcomb. However, he added, there must also be focus on better wages and affordable health care.
“Job training becomes less fruitful when you are sick and broke. And it must be said that our national counterparts have been far from helpful on this front,” said Pelath.
“How will our state respond as our President, Vice-President, and Congress continue their assault on affordable health insurance for Hoosiers? While the full-frontal attack has flopped thus far, the Trump-Pence administration continues to sneakily dismantle the Affordable Care Act piece by piece.”
It remains to be seen how much Democratic input will be accepted by Indiana Republicans, who hold supermajorities in both the House and Senate.
Holcomb concluded his address by asking lawmakers to adopt the say’s firefly as the state’s official insect. He credited an elementary school in West Lafayette for working several years on the insect initiative.
“We’re gonna get this done and the elementary students can take credit for it,” he said.