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Holcomb Agenda: Streamlined Job Training Efforts, Legislative Action Against Opioids

Governor seeks more treatment centers, new criminal charges for drug-related deaths

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Job training and opioids are again at the center of Governor Holcomb's agenda for next year.

Holcomb has unveiled a 36-point priority list, with the heaviest focus on workforce development. He wants to reconfigure the Indiana Career Council, the business-education partnership created to recommend  ways to line up what kids learn in school with the skills they'll need for the jobs most in demand by tghe time they join the workforce. Holcomb wants to flip that model upside down, sending state money to local partnerships to come up with plans after assessing their needs locally. An "Education to Career Pathway Cabinet" of higher education commissioner Teresa Lubbers, state school superintendent Jennifer McCormick, Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne, budget director Micah Vincent and Secretary of Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo would oversee their work.

Holcomb wants to require every school to offer computer science, and create a state Office of Apprenticeship to begin connecting high school students to job experience. 

Most of Holcomb's agenda  represents a to-do list for executive agencies, but the governor will ask legislators for nine measures, most of them involving further steps to fight the opioid epidemic. He wants to add to the 18 treatment centers so you have help within an hour's drive of your home. The administration is working on an app to instantly tell doctors which facilities have beds available.

Holcomb will also ask legislators to tighten the monitoring of painkiller prescriptions, and order better tracking of overdose deaths. Having that information can help shape the state's response and improve its odds of landing grant money. And Holcomb is endorsing proposals to create a separate felony charge for drug-connected murders, and allow felony murder charges against meth cooks and other illegal drug manufacturers if someone dies of an overdose.

And Holcomb will throw the weight of the governor's office for the first time behind a long-running push led by Lafayette schoolchildren to declare Say's firefly the official state insect.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) says Democrats are in sync with the ultimate goal of boosting job skills, but will seek ways to increase Hoosier wages.

The legislature begins its 10-week session in January.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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