INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) unveiled his 2020 Next Level Agenda on Tuesday which included a couple of proposals sure to get strong reaction from residents.
Holcomb addressed a number of topics, one of which was public health. He is proposing raising the state’s age to 21 for the purchase of e-cigarettes and tobacco products. The current age is 18. The state legislature would have to pass a law raising the age.
Following Holcomb’s announcement, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network issued the following statement:
“ACS CAN is pleased that Gov. Holcomb is urging action to address the drastic increase in e-cigarette use among Hoosier youth. In the last two years, nearly 35,000 Indiana kids have used e-cigarettes, so it is important for lawmakers to heed this call to action and pass a comprehensive and well-enforced Tobacco 21 policy that protects our youth.”American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Another initiative Holcomb would like to see the legislature tackle is the implementation of a hands-free device driving law aimed at cutting down on distracted driving due to cell phone usage. Indiana currently has a law which bans texting while driving.
“Because of the hard work of Hoosiers, Indiana has become a destination of certainty and stability, but we can’t stop there,” Gov. Holcomb said. “As I travel the state, I hear people concerned about rising health care costs, the increase in youth vaping, and our education and training systems. My goal is to listen and lead by finding solutions to build a bolder, brighter future.”
The 2020 Next Level Agenda includes what Holcomb describes as five pillars of legislative and administrative priorities.
The following are summaries of those five pillars as outlined in a press release issued in conjunction with the announcement.
Cultivate a strong and diverse economy
To continue strengthening our economy, Gov. Holcomb’s 2020 agenda focuses on transforming how we tell Indiana’s story by elevating Indiana’s profile within and outside the state with joint branding and promotion efforts with the private sector and the new Indiana Destination Development Corporation with the goal of attracting more jobs, more talent, and more tourism. The state will also build a 21st century defense innovation ecosystem to triple federal defense investment in Indiana by 2025.
Maintain and build the state’s infrastructure
The 2020 agenda is designed to connect Hoosiers with reliable, safe and swift infrastructure connectivity. To accomplish this goal, Gov. Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections program expands broadband service to unserved areas in Indiana, grows the state’s systems of trails and creates more nonstop international flights. The 2020 agenda also focuses on preserving our highways and decreasing distracted driving by enacting a hands-free device driving law.
Develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce
Gov. Holcomb will continue to make finding long-term sustainable solutions to improve teacher compensation a top priority by supporting the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission. The 2020 agenda also includes identifying unfunded mandates and unnecessary requirements in K-12 education for elimination in 2021, holding schools harmless for ILEARN scores, changing career-related teacher professional growth points from required to optional, and redesigning our prison education system to better prepare Department of Correction offenders to re-enter society.
Public health and the drug epidemic
Gov. Holcomb is calling for raising the age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 and enhancing enforcement to prevent underage buyers. The 2020 agenda also includes providing healthcare price transparency for consumers via an “All-Payer Claims Database,” protecting consumers from surprise medical bills, improving mental health services at schools and hospitals, and incentivizing more community paramedicine programs. In the fight against the drug epidemic, the Governor wants to add more recovery housing for Hoosiers coping with substance use disorder. The state will continue to work toward becoming the best state in the Midwest for infant mortality by 2024 by protecting pregnant workers by providing more workplace accommodations.
Deliver great government service
The 2020 agenda saves Hoosiers more than $125 million in borrowing costs by using $300 million in cash now to fund capital projects. Additionally, Gov. Holcomb will simplify how Hoosiers reach out for health and human services assistance by integrating the 2-1-1 helpline into FSSA call centers.