Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 10, 2013

THIRD HOUSE: Yoder not in favor of cold medicine prescriptions


GOSHEN — Indiana has a bad problem.

It’s methamphetamine, state Sen. Carlin Yoder said, and the drug is tearing up Hoosier communities. However, the lawmaker doesn’t feel making key meth ingredients prescription-only is the way to go.

Yoder, R-Middlebury, and state Rep. Wes Culver, R-Goshen, discussed a range of legislative issues at a Third House session in downtown Goshen Saturday. Around 25 people attended the gathering at the city Chamber of Commerce.

Yoder said his bill is an attempt to prevent ephedrine and pseudoephedrine becoming available only by prescription. He said there are now daily and monthly caps on how much of those materials someone can buy. Yoder’s proposes a yearly cap, as well.

The lawmaker explained that even with his bill, someone would be able to buy eight months’ worth of the product without prescription.

“If you need more than eight months of this product,” Yoder said, “you really should be under a doctor’s care anyway.”

Yoder indicated that for people who legitimately need ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products, a prescription-only scenario would make it difficult for them to get the medicines without their costs rising substantially. He also said doctors wouldn’t want to deal with a prescription-only plan, either.

Under the Senate-approved bill anyone convicted of a meth-related crime within the prior seven years would need a prescription to buy the ingredients.

“I think that’s reasonable and fair as well,” Yoder said.

According to Yoder, meth use in Oregon has not gone down despite the prescription-only measures in place there. He said meth made in Mexico — purer and cheaper to manufacture — is flooding the illicit drug markets in Oregon, California and elsewhere. Yoder feels the prescription remedy could cause that same problem here.

“I frankly do not want to see that stuff show up in Indiana,” he said.

Criminal code

In other matters, Culver said Indiana House members approved a revision of the state criminal code by a vote of 80-13. He indicated that support wouldn’t have happened a few years ago — lawmakers would have feared being perceived as soft on crime.

Culver said that under the proposed change people convicted of crimes — including murder, rape and child molesting — wouldn’t be able to earn 50 percent credit time any more, but only 25 percent.

“They have to stay in jail longer for violent crimes,” he said.

The measure would also give county judges more leeway on suspending prison sentences and instead sending low-level offenders to local programs.

Tax cut

Last month Indiana House members approved a budget that didn’t include Gov. Mike Pence’s proposed 10 percent cut to the personal income tax. Culver and Yoder were quizzed Saturday for their opinions on Pence’s plan.

Yoder said he is not opposed to the tax break, but only if the state’s financial forecast shows that it’s affordable. If that forecast, due in April, comes back not as optimistic as lawmakers would like to see, Yoder said, “then we’re going to have to make some tough decisions on where we spend the extra revenues that we have.”

Culver said he supported Pence’s proposal.

“I’m always for smaller government,” he said. “I think people and organizations learn to live within their means, so I’d be for the tax cut.”

Abortion pill

The state Senate has approved tighter restrictions on clinics that offer the RU-486 “abortion pill.” Clinicians would be required to do ultrasounds on women seeking the drugs. Doctors offices would be exempt from the proposed restrictions.

Abortion-rights supporters say the measure would force women to be subjected to an invasive transvaginal procedure. This is because the pill is given early in the pregnancy, when the embryo or fetus is too small to be detected by an abdominal ultrasound.

Yoder said he supported the measure, as did Culver.

“I am pro-life,” Culver said. “I think a child in a womb is a human being.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.