After a 2013 session that produced several significant bills on children’s issues, including creation of the Commission on Improving the Status of Children, lawmakers say the 2014 session could be much quieter on the subject.
Two meetings in, Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville, says the commission is in the process of connecting the more than 30 boards and committees dealing with children’s issues over which it has purview. Those issues include access to resources for vulnerable youth, mental health issues, drug abuse among young people and infant mortality.
“There’s a real desire to build and provide progress and not to overlap,” says Riecken. “And they’re finding that there are opportunities to work with other departments so that they don’t reinvent the wheel; I’ve heard that over and over again.”
Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, says the commission needs time to prioritize areas of need in children’s issues. But providing that time may require the legislature to hold off on major legislation next session.
“Before we do anything, prioritize what we need to do and then take action plans,” says Kubacki. “Running things through just because we want to say we’ve accomplished something isn’t always the wisest thing.”
Riecken says she at least hopes the General Assembly will produce legislation next session addressing prescription drug abuse in pregnant women.